Decriminalizing Drug Use

What is decriminalization? “The action of process of ceasing to treat something as illegal or as a criminal offense” (Dictionary.com, 2012). Now that we have looked at the reasons as to why criminalization of drug use is preferred by some, we will look into the other side of the debate: decriminalizing drug use/ possession. 

In more recent years, countries have become more interested in decriminalizing drug use/ possession, especially in the face of legalization, where a lot more controversy can be found. (Legalization is “the action of making something that was previously illegal permissible by law” (Lexico, 2020)). 

The primary benefits of decriminalization are:

1) Reduce drug incarceration spending.

           a) “In 2015, the United States spent about $9.2 million daily on incarcerations for drug-related offenses” (Pearl, 2018).

Drug Policy Alliance, 2016, pg. 1

2) “Free up law enforcement resources to be used in more appropriate ways” (Drug Policy Alliance, 2019).

3) “Prioritize health and safety over punishment for people who use drugs” (Drug Policy Alliance, 2019).

4) “Reduce stigma associated with drug use so that problematic drug users are encouraged to come out out of the shadows and seek treatment and other support” (Drug Policy Alliance, 2019).

5) “Remove barriers to evidence-based harm reduction practices such as drug checking, heroin-assisted treatment, and medical marijuana” (Drug Policy Alliance, 2019).