Barred from Progress

The truth about decriminalizing drugs

Since Arkansas rejected the initiative to legalize marijuana in the midterm elections, many have discussed possible solutions for drug use rates and drug-related crimes in the state. 

A possible solution is decriminalizing drugs– Americans are not fond of this idea, though. Decriminalization is stigmatized, creating misinformation that it leads to hard drug use and rampant crime.

However, other countries have been recognized for decriminalizing drugs, and taking a different approach than the U.S.

While many citizens believe decriminalizing equals legalizing– this is untrue.

In reality decriminalizing drugs means the use and sale of drugs would still be illegal. It would also mean people who suffer from addictions would get the rehabilitation they need without going to jail. Distributors would face consequences, and the sale of drugs would still be a criminal offense.

My own family has addiction issues, and I know that those who got help from doctors and counselors were more likely to get off drugs than the family members who went to prison for their drug crimes,” said Tammy James, psychology teacher.

After 20 years, Portugal has confirmed this approach works. Drug-related deaths remained below the EU average since they decriminalized drugs in 2001. Drug related prison sentences and drug rates have also stayed under the EU average.

Ridding our society of the stigma around drugs and instead offering compassion and medical support will help those affected by this awful addiction.

“From what I see, a lot [of] people become addicted because they feel like they can’t go to anyone, so instead they go to drugs,” said Ryn Montondo, 10.

This affliction also affects the majority of the states’ population. According to the National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics, 26% of all arrests in America are for drug-related crimes and this means local taxpayers fund these infractions, no matter how small.

“I think more and more people across the political spectrum are beginning to come to the conclusion that just locking everybody up who has a drug addiction problem is probably not a great solution because it costs over $40,000 a year to the taxpayers for each person that is in prison,” said John Raybourn, history teacher.