ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Should Drugs be Decriminalized?

Updated on August 6, 2015
Gloriousconfusion profile image

I love to share the benefit of the experience I have gained over three quarters of a century, be it useful tips, love, jokes or technology

Should drug users, probably among them people you know and love, automatically be labelled as criminals?

I have known people who have died through substance abuse, and I have known people whose lives have been ruined by substance abuse, either their own or someone else's. So I am well aware of the harm these things do.

But, on balance, I do not believe decent people should be criminalized because of their addictions, whether they be things you stuff up your nose, in your gob or in your veins.

Cannabis Sativa
Cannabis Sativa | Source

Quite ordinary people, people who would not normally be thought of as criminals, break the law by refusing to accept that the State should dictate what they may

By getting a criminal record, even if they do not receive a custodial sentence, drug users can suffer life-long consequences - it can ruin a career, break up families, result in immigration problems and mark a person for life.

And, most important of all, a prohibition on drugs has not stopped the problem escalating over the last fifty years, so it just DOESN'T WORK! There has to be a better way.


I am not advocating that production and large-scale sale of drugs should be decriminalized, only that drug users should not be criminalized

Unfortunately it is part of teenage rebellion to be curious about banned substances, and to want to experience the effect of mind-altering drugs. They should be warned of the dangers, helped if and when they need help, and brought back to normality without becoming criminals for what is, in effect, a social problem or disease, not a criminal activity.

Several countries have now decriminalized marijuana

Portugal decriminalized drugs in 2001

Decriminalization in Portugal has not led to increased drug-taking. Rather the opposite, and money which was formerly spent on enforcement and prevention is now spent on healthcare. Because people don't have to hide their drug problem, they are more likely to come forward and ask for treatment when drug-taking becomes a medical problem. Earlier treatment means fewer health issues, and fewer people getting AIDS from shared needles.

Uruguay seems likely to become the first country in the world to actually legalize marijuana as opposed to merely decrminalizing it. The proposal will probably become law by the end of 2013 and anyone would be permitted to grow marijuana, sell it, or consume up to 40 grams a month of cannabis.

There has been much bloodshed resulting from illegal cannabis trafficking, including murderous drug wars and violent attempts at Government enforcement. Uruguay considers that the way forward is to license the drug and put it under Government control. with the focus on public safety and health,

The states of Washington and Colorado are following suit.

Contrary to what people think, the Netherlands has not legalized marijuana, but merely permitted the possession of small amounts, and not enforced the law against certain "coffee shops" where marijuana is available.

Users are not prosecuted in the UK for possession of small amounts of cannabis, but it has not been legalized.

Critics point out that even if cannabis is not always harmful in itself, it is often the gateway to the use of more harmful drugs. And there is no doubt about it, the use of marijuana can lead to psychotic changes in a few susceptible people, even if the majority are not affected. I do actually know someone who developed schizophrenia which was believed to have been caused by heavy cannabis use in his early teens, but of course there could have been other causes, such as hereditary factors.

Cannabis is also known to contain certain medicinal compounds which are prescribed in some countries, such as Canada, to alleviate the symptoms of multiple schlerosis, Tourrette's syndrome, obsessive compulsive disorder and stress.

This is what Avaaz, the Human Rights Organization said:

Avaaz, 24th May 2011

"Avaaz is a world human rights organization who use the power of publicity, via Internet, the Media and face-to-face to influence Governments to do the right thing. In a matter of hours they can get their members and friends to support a world-wide petition of one and a half million signatures. They are recognized by Governments as a power to be reckoned with.

"50 years of prohibition has completely failed to reduce drug use, and instead has fueled violent conflict, and devastated lives around the world. Politicians know this and know alternative approaches work, but won't change policy, afraid they will appear 'soft on drugs'.

"For 50 years current drug policies have failed everyone, everywhere but public debate is stuck in the mud of fear and misinformation. Everyone, even the UN Office on Drugs and Crime which is responsible for enforcing this approach agrees -- deploying militaries and police to burn drug farms, hunting down traffickers, and imprisoning dealers and addicts - is an expensive mistake. And with massive human cost -- from Afghanistan, to Mexico, to the USA the illegal drug trade is destroying countries around the world, while addiction, overdose deaths, and HIV/AIDS infections continue to rise.

"Meanwhile, countries with less-harsh enforcement -- like Switzerland, Portugal, the Netherlands, and Australia -- have not seen the explosion in drug use that proponents of the drug war have darkly predicted. Instead, they have seen significant reductions in drug-related crime, addiction and deaths, and are able to focus squarely on dismantling criminal empires.

"Powerful lobbies still stand in the way, including military, law enforcement, and prison departments whose budgets are at stake. And politicians fear that voters will throw them out of office if they support alternative approaches, as they will appear weak on law and order. But experts all agree that the most sensible policy is to regulate, and many former drugs Ministers and Heads of State have come out in favour of reform since leaving office. Polls show that citizens across the world know the current approach is a catastrophe and momentum is gathering towards new improved policies, particularly in regions that are ravaged by the drug trade.

"We have a chance to enter the closing chapter of this brutal 'war' that has destroyed millions of lives. Global public opinion will determine if this catastrophic policy is stopped or if politicians shy away from reform. Let's rally urgently to push our hesitating leaders from doubt and fear, over the edge, and into reason".

Update June 5 2011

We did it! Last week Avaaz Executive Director Ricken Patel hand-delivered our over half a million signatures to the UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, world leaders and the global media in New York. At the meeting Ban Ki Moon heard our call to action and agreed to create a new UN task force to develop a comprehensive approach to drugs and organized crime. This is a major step forward towards ending the war on drugs as the approach will include a public health, education and prevention focus. We will continue to push to make sure this senseless and brutal war is ended. "

Read the article below - what an idiot! - South Africa's Intelligence Minister seems to have been a bit short of intelligence about his own wife's criminal acti

It says much for the legal system in South Africa that a minister's wife was actually brought to justice within the law, so it's not all bad news, because at least it shows that everyone is equal under the law, with no special privileges for those in high positions.

American Drug War - the last white hope - Documentary video

American Drug War: The Last White Hope
American Drug War: The Last White Hope

A documentary film about why the efforts to stamp out drugs is failing - it will sadden you, and probably surprise quite a few of you. About conflict of interest at government level, profit, competition and things you should know about. It might shock you,

 

Below are 2 Books on Some Serious Academic Investigations into Drug Laws - If you want to understand more about decriminalizing drugs, these will help you

Amazon stocks a good range of books about drug laws, and the ones featured below are just a small selection which I thought looked interesting and reasonably neutral in assessing the pro's and con's about this important subject

You can buy the t-shirt below from my Zazzle Shop

I designed it myself - you can design things too, if you like - take a look by clicking on the Zazzle link below the picture

You can get the same cartoon design on a sticker, badge or even a mug

Too Much Fun is Bad For You

Source

Here's a Close-up of the Picture

Too Much Fun is Bad For You!
Too Much Fun is Bad For You! | Source

It's not only drug users themselves who think that use of mind-altering drugs should be decriminalized

There is an argument for saying that, like alcohol and cigarettes, they should be legalized and taxed.

Note the difference in terminology: If drugs are merely decriminalized, users would no longer be prosecuted but suppliers could still be punished. Whereas, if they are legalized, that means there are no penalties for anyone, users or suppliers. Big difference.

It's Your Turn Now to Have Your Say - Can You Think of More Points about this debate? Do you think drugs should be decriminalized? What's your personal experien

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Lorelei Cohen profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 2 years ago from Canada

      I don't smoke the stuff and would not want to, but I know people who do and who it is very beneficial for. I believe people should be allowed it in smaller quantities and it should be used responsibly just as cigarettes and alcohol are.

    • profile image

      Franco 2 years ago

      I have to express some thakns to the writer just for bailing me out of this type of challenge. Just after exploring throughout the world wide web and getting principles which were not beneficial, I assumed my life was well over. Being alive without the answers to the problems you've sorted out through the blog post is a crucial case, and those that might have badly damaged my career if I had not come across your blog. Your good expertise and kindness in handling all the details was useful. I don't know what I would've done if I hadn't discovered such a stuff like this. I'm able to at this point look ahead to my future. Thank you very much for the professional and amazing guide. I won't think twice to suggest your web page to anybody who should receive support about this subject.

    • Paula Atwell profile image

      Paula Atwell 2 years ago from Cleveland, OH

      @best-gifts Yes, you are right about those points. I am just not sure where the legal system should or should not step in.

    • Paul Ward profile image

      Paul 2 years ago from Liverpool, England

      Decriminalise cannabis, see how that goes.

      One point worth making, in the UK, heroin can be proscribed to addicts (though it rarely is) and many function quite happily on such regimes.

    • smine27 profile image

      Shinichi Mine 2 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      This is something I've thought of in the past. I really don't know where i stand on this.

    • best-gifts-ever profile image

      best-gifts-ever 2 years ago

      The thing is Paula - nobody controls drug use anyhow. What you CAN control is education and how to deal with the real crimes (theft, large-scale sales of drugs etc.) Why should the small-town drug user be punished? They're only at the end of the supply line. In The Netherlands what IS punished is having more than a certain amount of drugs (which signifies that you're in it for trade, not personal use).

      If the USA wants a fairer justice system, it has to stop treating small-crime as though it were big crime.

      Using drugs is only hurting you and your loved ones. There is not significant difference in the effect on the people in your life in overusing alcohol or overusing Cocaine. Overusing Marijuana on the other hand is significantly LESS damaging. Sure - it's not healthy, but why make that a crime?

    • Paula Atwell profile image

      Paula Atwell 2 years ago from Cleveland, OH

      This is a tough call. I really don't know what I think about it. How do we control drug use in a more positive way?

    • SheGetsCreative profile image

      Angela F 4 years ago from Seattle, WA

      In the U.S. we have completely lost the war on drugs. Time to make a drastic change!

    • Gloriousconfusion profile image
      Author

      Diana Grant 4 years ago from United Kingdom

      @anonymous: We all seem to be racing towards our own destruction, one way or another, don't we?

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Drug prohibition has been an even bigger failure than alcohol prohibition was.

    • Heather426 profile image

      Heather Burns 4 years ago from Wexford, Ireland

      All over the world where drugs have been decriminalized the use of them has decreased remarkably, and crime has dropped dramatically.

    • UKGhostwriter profile image

      UKGhostwriter 6 years ago

      Great lens, fanastic topic for a big debate