Presidential Candidate Andrew Yang Calls for Opioid Decriminalization

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Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang believes he knows how to fix America’s opioid crisis, and it starts by decriminalizing opioid consumption. 

The New York entrepreneur’s campaign website published his new policy on Wednesday.

“We need to decriminalize the possession and use of small amounts of opioids,” stated the website’s brief. “Other countries, such as Portugal, have done so, and have seen treatment go up and drug deaths and addiction go down. When caught with a small quantity of any opioid, our justice system should err on the side of providing treatment.”

In 2001, Portugal became the first nation to decriminalize the possession and use of all drugs, including opioids like heroin. Since then, the country has seen drug abuse rates, overdoses, and other drug-related crimes, like robberies and assaults, drop to unprecedented levels.

Other problems connected to opioid abuse, like the spread of HIV through dirty needles, also fell, according to The Guardian. In 2000, Portugal saw 104 new HIV cases per million people. By 2015, that number plummeted to just 4 new cases per million.  

Decriminalizing opioids marks yet another outside-the-box proposal from Yang. Last year, he made universal basic income the centerpiece of his campaign: $1,000, automatically, every month, to every American adult.

A universal basic income, he argued, would assuage a workforce that is increasingly being replaced by automated robots. The funds would come from taxes on the highest-earning corporations.

Yang’s other policy promises include new carbon taxes to rein in climate change, capping the costs of college tuition, increasing teacher pay, granting statehood to Puerto Rico, bodycams for every cop, and, of course, legalizing weed.

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