given the way in which many forces have affected drug use in the past, what is your own projection twenty five years into the future of the nature of our society's drug use problems, based on some of the social, political, economic, law enforcement, technological, scientific and/ or medical developements you envision.
I would say popular support for marijuana reform is on the horizon, and that it will have little effect on its overall use. That is to say, the problem will be no more glaring than it is now, but no less either. It will help with crime rates and lessen spending on incarceration for those offenses. We haven't seen the end of new drugs that will enter the market and create problems as yet unforeseen.
I hope we come to a solution by then, but I doubt we will. When you look at this historically, since the fifties there always seems to be a new dangerous drug of the decade. People will keep playing around and discover or rediscover new ones. With technology today, future drugs might be devastating.
I am also a bit pessimistic on this topic. I think drugs will always be around in some form or another. Technology will create more potent drugs. I do think marijuana and other drugs might eventually be legalized, but there will be others. Consider that many drugs we have today started out as medications. Ecstasy is a good example of this. Ecstasy was intended to be a mood stabilizer but doctors abandoned the drug when they couldn't get the formula right. Now, it is a street drug. Technology will create different drugs that might be better or worse. The police will change their strategies and policies, but the drug market tends to grow and change faster than authorities can keep up. I think, in the future, the "drug war" will be different but yet still there.
I am a bit of a pessimist when it comes to this issue, as I look at the largely ineffective methods that have been adopted to try and stop the flow of drugs between countries in S. America and elsewhere and Western countries and can only predict that things will get worse as time goes by. My one hope is that we can get better at detecting the use of drugs and also that medicine can become better at helping counteract the negative impact of drugs on the human body.
I thought it might be useful to post some web sites offering evidence about what the future of drug use may be in our society.
My own hope would be that drug use would diminish, perhaps -- ironically -- through the development of drugs designed to break people of addictions. However, hope and reality are two different things.
Here, therefore, are some interesting sites:
Seeing that addiction is such a terrible disease that can't truly be "cured" I would hope that we will develop better treatment methodology or medications to help those who are addicted to make faster and more lasting recovery from their addictions. As we learn more about the brain and how it functions, we may be able to advance our understanding of how to cure addiction.
The future may well include legalization and acceptance of Marijuana, and possibly other-mood altering recreational drugs. And, as one post pointed out, there may be improved technology to prevent impaired driving.
I feel that, regardless of these and other future changes, the percentage of recreational drug users will remain the same. This is because a certain (and probably constant) percentage of people are genetically predisposed to be self-abusers. I would not expect the percentage to change. There still will be a majority who do not use, and disapprove of, recreational drugs.
I would hope we will be able to see technological developments that will make it more difficult for people to drive when under the influence of drugs. If locks can require code entry, if breath sensors can be connected to ignition devices, if built-in sensors in brakes or steering can be made reactive to impaired reflexes - I don't know exactly how it might happen, but I'm guessing it's possible.
During the early 1970s, I would have bet that marijuana would have been legalized by 1980. But Ronald Reagan ushered in a new wave of conservativism, and marijuana laws only got tougher for several decades. I don't see it completely being legalized anytime soon, though I believe a few more states will seek to decriminalize it. It still seems ridiculous that in some states you can smoke pot legally, and in others (for example, Texas), users can still face a long jail sentence. Tobacco and alcohol are far more harmful to the user, but marijuana will probably remained outlawed for decades to come.
Politically, there seems to be a growing acceptance of the idea that marijuana laws should be relaxed to some extent. Between that and the moves toward more government austerity that we are seeing, I would argue that we are likely to see some amout of legalization. However, I do not expect that this will have any significant effect on the amount of actual drug use as I do not think there are many people who would not use marijuana now but would use it simply because it became legal.