Fifty years ago this week, on June 17, 1971, President Richard Nixon held a press conference

conference in the White House briefing room to officially declare a “war on drugs. President Nixon said, “In order to fight and defeat this enemy, it is necessary to lead a new all-out offensive.”

Since that press conference, our country has followed the President’s directive and launched a decades-long crackdown on people who use drugs. Our policies at federal and state level

and local levels across the United States have largely emulated this punitive response.

So, did it work?

Brett Montague

Over the past five decades, we have neither reduced the harms associated with drugs nor stopped drug use. On the contrary, these criminal justice oriented policies have created a great amount of additional harm in society.

In Mississippi, our drug laws have often fallen along with the war on

drugs. Yet drug use and overdose rates are rising, and thousands of families have loved ones currently incarcerated on a non-violent drug charge in the Mississippi prison system.

This raises the inevitable and lingering question. Are the citizens of Mississippi ready for a

change in our drug laws?

Perhaps I could shed some light on this response as the leader of the only nonprofit Mississippi communities education and advocacy group on drug policy. Since 2017, End for good hosted 23 community discussions on alternatives to the war on drugs with over 1,000 Mississippians. These community discussions have taken place as far north as Southaven and as far south as Ocean Springs.

Drug use, overdose complex:We need to understand the pain behind the addiction

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, the opioid epidemic was the main public health emergency in the United States. As the pandemic roared, there is exacerbated our country’s drug crisis.

As vaccinations kicked in, we at End It For Good resumed our community discussion program this spring, hosting live and in-person sessions. Since March, the EFG team has hosted four community talks from the Golden Triangle from Mississippi to Capitol Hill, via Hub City and Pascagoula.

These events drew the participation of citizens of our state, including government officials, law enforcement officials, clergy, business and education leaders and more.

Some people have asked me recently, “From the Mississippi Supreme Court reversed

Initiative 65, didn’t it hurt you or at least failed? The answer to this question is paradoxical, because the honest answer is yes and no. Yes, the court’s decision is a setback for our state and the well-being of a large and suffering population among our citizens.

On the other hand, the court ruling did not hurt us at all, but rather brought increased attention to the matter and therefore increased demand for our work.

That is why, this week, as we mark this sadly historic anniversary of the United States War on Drugs, End for good nears launch of public education campaign in Mississippi.

This campaign will show how our state’s failing drug laws are causing undue harm to its people, families, communities, businesses and law enforcement officials. As we prepare for this season, I also personally invite each of you to consider joining us on the End It For Good journey.

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