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Ramped-up drug enforcement has unintended consequences

California is often in the forefront of new approaches in the ongoing societal effort to monitor certain chemical substances and punish their use, possession or other forms of control. For instance, as marijuana has progressed from a medically permissible substance to broad recreational use under state law, it continues to remain a Class One drug under federal law, the most restrictive classification. Federal offices rarely enforce those laws regarding marijuana, but how other drugs are classified and the fervor with which enforcement is prosecuted can result in unintended, and perhaps undesirable, consequences.

Legislative analysts point to the example of fentanyl-like substances that are currently classified as Class One drugs, but that designation will expire soon if legislative action does not occur. Proponents are pushing to renew the classification and pursue vigorous enforcement for all who are involved in the fentanyl market chain. Many who take a closer look at the bigger picture, however, are beginning to conclude that ramped-up enforcement primarily impacts the users and purchasers for personal use and are having little effect on the large dealers that the laws are theoretically targeting.

Even to the extent that some number of street sellers are caught up in the law enforcement raids, this can trigger more potent, riskier levels of drugs to be produced and make the entire drug scene more dangerous, especially to the all-but-helpless addict. Experts from various disciplines are finding the movement to strongly consider curtailing the majority of low-level drugs charges compelling and worthy of re-examination rather than the knee-jerk reaction of simply passing more laws and incarcerating more people.

Certain judges use their position to enable drug-impacted defendants to get the treatment they need. For other defendants, mounting a vigorous criminal defense is necessary to help those accused of drug crimes. An experienced criminal lawyer may offer counsel and representation.

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