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Frederick Lecture Series Launches With Discussion on Drug Policy Solutions

Wolfe feature

For Associate Professor Tim Wolfe, Ph.D., America's policy response to the challenges of drugs and crime is both professional and personal. Wolfe began "drinking and drugging" daily at age 11 and didn't stop until he enlisted in the Army at the suggestion of a judge he appeared before on drunk driving charges. "I was given extra chances to get sober," Wolfe said. "Everyone should be given additional opportunities."

20yearlogo_blue.jpgWolfe, director of human services and associate professor in the Department of Sociology, Criminal Justice and Human Services, launched the 20/20 Lecture Series: Celebrating 20 Years of the Mount in Frederick with a talk on dismantling the U.S. "War on Drugs." For decades, scholars, practitioners and community members have criticized the War on Drugs as America’s primary policy response to the challenges of drugs and crime. Wolfe reviewed data showing that this policy approach hasn't worked and has resulted in full jails and increased overdoses.

"The War on Drugs has been far too costly in human and fiscal terms," said Wolfe, who noted estimates of total costs of more than $1 trillion. "We would save tremendous dollars if we invested in treatment and prevention rather than incarceration."

In recent years, as the opiate crisis impacts more and more varied communities, shifts in drug policy and social opinion have been unfolding. While these shifts are largely welcomed, much more needs to be done to develop and implement effective, evidence-based, humane, and sustainable drug policies, said Wolfe who suggested that communities ask the following questions as they develop these policies:

  • What is addiction? How accurate is our understanding of it?
  • What prevention models are most effective? What treatment models are most effective? For whom?
  • What happens in other states and countries? What can be learned from their experiences?
  • What about harm reduction approaches such as needle exchanges and safe injection facilities?
  • Do we really want to commercialize even more intoxicants such as THC? At what costs?
  • How can we best leverage the positive effects of medication-assisted treatment? What are possible drawbacks?
  • How can we create communities that foster sobriety, wellness and thriving?

Wolfe urged attendees to challenge their assumptions, get educated and then get involved and demand change. "We need to foster a sense of urgency and commitment to sustainability," Wolfe said.

The lecture series is one of several events scheduled throughout the year to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Mount's Frederick campus, which has offered adult students and community college students in and around Frederick the opportunity to improve their lives through professional and continuing education.

The second lecture in the 20/20 series will be given by Christina L. Yoder, Ph.D., on November 13. Yoder's talk, titled "Moving Forward from #MeToo," will explore how to create a more inclusive culture so women and men feel safe and supported at work. Yoder is an assistant professor in the Richard J. Bolte, Sr. School of Business.