If Jeff Sessions would like to learn about smart drug policy, I’ll pay for his trip to Switzerland. Like many of its neighbors, Switzerland has a progressive drug policy that aims to reduce the overall harm to its society, rather than focus on punishing users. It’s both compassionate and pragmatic. And it is effective.
When polls showed that more than 30 percent of Swiss people had used marijuana, the parliament decided to decriminalize the drug, rather than criminalize a third of its population. Hard drugs, however, remain absolutely illegal. Still, Swiss laws treat addicts as people needing medical help, rather than as criminals. Even in classy Zürich, you can see evidence of this policy. For instance, on the bridge across from the station, bolted to the railing, there’s a big, nondescript vending machine selling safe, government-subsidized syringes to heroin junkies. The basic idea: Hard drug addicts are sick people, not criminals. They need counselors and nurses…not police and lawyers. While Jeff Sessions might recommend “just say no,” the Swiss will be sure their people struggling with hard-drug addiction are not sharing needles and spreading diseases.