Thomas, Laura

Laura Thomas is the deputy state director for the Drug Policy Alliance.

“Not Every Human Problem Deserves a Law” - But Sometimes Existing Laws Are The Problem

By Laura Thomas
Drug Policy Alliance

Governor Jerry Brown has proclaimed that, “Not every human problem deserves a law.”

He’s definitely right.  However, there are laws on the books right now that worsen human suffering, contribute to contagion, and burden the state’s healthcare budget.  We’ll need his help fixing those.

Case in point: state drug paraphernalia laws make it a crime to possess a syringe for personal drug use, and also make it illegal for a pharmacist to sell, or a physician or public health worker to provide a sterile syringe without a prescription. Back in the 70s—before AIDS--these laws were intended to reduce heroin use.  

That didn’t work.   However, government-created syringe scarcity did contribute to the rapid spread of HIV/AIDS and viral hepatitis among people who use drugs, who were infected by shared syringes, as well as their partners and children.