Drug Policy Alliance, 2017

Drug topics of any kind are a controversial one. When it comes to what drug use/ possession is allowed or not illegal in our country is where we find the true controversy. Many people around the world view drug addiction and use incorrectly, but with an understanding of sociological imagination comes an understanding of what these people are doing and where they and their behavior have come from. Sociological imagination is “the capacity to think systematically about how many things we as personal problems… are really social issues that are widely shared by others in a similar time and social location,” and more specifically, “it involves taking into account how our individual lives are impacted by historical and social contexts” (Manza et al., 1.1). Once we can fully broaden our understanding of what makes us who we are and how either limited or privileged we are from birth removes the blame from incarcerations and punishments. Especially in the United States, as compared to other rich, developing countries, incarceration is a form of punishment not reform/rehabilitation, but when we change our perspective from wanting to punish to wanting to help these people, decriminalization is the only way to go. As seen in Portugal, if money and time is put into these individuals, their usage, addiction, diseases, and deaths only decrease. 

Our basic life path is mostly mapped for us when we are born due to the limited amount of social mobility (“The movement of individuals from one social position into another” (Manza et al., 10.3.1))in the United States. Lack of social mobility can lead to drug use and crime if an individual is born in impoverished circumstances where such behaviors are the norm. Decriminalization is needed to refocus our priorities from punishing individuals to improving and reforming on a societal level that is currently influencing such individuals to take on deviant role. By refocusing, we would take the stigma away from those who have become drug users and offer them opportunities to rehabilitate and possibly restructure the life they were born in to. 

In the face of a drug epidemic in our society, decriminalization is what is needed to help these individuals and improve all aspects of our criminal justice and health systems.

Drug Policy Alliance, 2017

With such positive results from drug reform in other countries, we can hope that the United States is on its way to a federal decriminalization, but as with any societal improvement, it is going be a slow journey.