The opioid prescription problem in the U.S. is perpetuated by drug companies, Sanho Tree tells CCTV.

“Airwaves are flooded with prescription drug ads. There’s a pill for every problem,” Tree said.

People begin to abuse prescription drugs and then look for a cheaper version on the black market, Tree said. Then the DEA cracks down on heroin, so drug dealers find ways to stretch their profit, namely by mixing heroin with much more potent drugs.

“This is a very predictable trajectory,” Tree said. “Prohibition breeds substitutes that are often more dangerous, more problematic, more difficult to stop.”

And of course, the more we escalate the war on drugs, the more valuable drugs become to produce and smuggle, Tree said.

Building a bigger wall between the U.S. and Mexico, as Trump’s suggested, only incentivizes drug traffickers to find more innovative ways to get across the border.

Setting up an ‘x’ prize to find creative ways to cross U.S. borders is, from a national security standpoint, “not an incentive we want to create,” Tree said.

Instead, Tree said we should follow the Portugal model, which has decriminalized possession of drugs and divested from law enforcement to invest in treatment programs.

Watch the full interview here.

Sanho Tree directs the Drug Policy project for the Institute for Policy Studies.

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