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Decriminalization of Drugs

Decriminalization of Drugs

Sample Answer 

Decriminalization of Drugs

Following the decriminalization of recreational drugs in Colorado and Washington, support for legalization has grown in the United States. Drug decriminalization does not appear to be a modern concept. Drugs like cocaine, morphine, and marijuana were once legal to produce, sell, and consume. The criminalization of drugs was apparently promoted by American missionaries in the twentieth century. Criminal policies were reluctantly adopted around the world, with opponents claiming that, while supply would fall, demand would remain, and the cost of criminalization would be severe. In comparison to countries that enacted punitive drug laws, countries with lax policies have not seen an increase in drug use or drug-related crime. For example, surveys show that countries with punitive drug-control policies have more drug users (Hammond et al., 2020). As a result, legalizing drugs will have little effect on the rate of drug use. Instead, drug decriminalization has numerous advantages, including economic empowerment, improved social behavior, and prudent government resource utilization. Drug decriminalization reduces drug trafficking, addiction rates, and the costs of rehabilitation activities.

Legalizing drugs will result in economic empowerment due to lower rates of drug trafficking and other drug offenses. According to Mendes et al., decriminilization is defined as the legalization of drugs in order to eliminate criminal penalties for drug use and ownership. Drug legalization should ideally include the abolition of all reformatory, restraint-based, coercive approaches to drug use. According to research, the more criminal drug laws are enforced, the more prevalent violence becomes. Drug prices are skyrocketing because the limited supply cannot meet the users’ persistent demands. The current drug situation under punitive laws provides a lucrative opportunity for organized criminals to profit from the high-profit margins. The involvement of corrupt criminal gangs increases the proclivity for violence—drug production is mostly concentrated in impoverished areas where criminal gangs can easily exploit the poor. Decriminalization of drugs, on the other hand, is an economic game changer that will break the oligopoly of violent criminal gangs by stabilizing supply and demand. As a result, farmers will be able to freely participate in the production or seek alternative cash crops if global competition is too stiff. Countries that offer competitive prices through the cultivation of drug crops can profit similarly to wine-producing countries such as France. Citizens benefit from drug trafficking in a secure environment. Simultaneously, the government taps into trade taxes that could be channeled toward economic development (Spenser & Strobl, 2020).

Drug decriminalization improves social behavior and lowers the rate of drug dependency, abuse, and addiction. According to the World Bank, legalized dealers will likely double the rate of cocaine abuse in the United States (Ernst, 2020). Contrary to popular belief, legalization does not increase the rate of addiction; rather, it is a nuanced approach that encourages positive behavior while discouraging drug use. Cocaine taxation, for example, is likely to deter addiction because cocaine users are often non-addicts who are frugal with their money. Furthermore, the involvement of regulatory bodies will ensure that the quality of the drugs is maintained in order to protect the health of users. Portugal’s legislators passed a law decriminalizing drugs in the country in 2001. In addition to decriminalization, the country increased its efforts to rehabilitate drug users and reduce the risks of drug use through programs such as regular methadone maintenance and the distribution of sterile syringes. Following the implementation of decriminalization strategies, Portugal has seen a significant decrease in the rates of arrests and incarceration, binge drinking among adolescents, HIV/AIDS, and drug-related mortality (Laqueur, 2015). Furthermore, the fear of a criminal record, loss of employment, and potential family conflicts discourage drug abuse victims from seeking professional help. Overdose mortality has surpassed accident mortality in the United States. Drug decriminalization will reduce the stigma associated with drug abuse and encourage drug addicts to engage in healthy behaviors. Drug addicts are sufficiently supported by therapy programs to adopt drug-free behaviors (Mendes et al., .2019).

The legalization of drugs could save taxpayers billions of dollars in the United States. The cost of criminalizing drugs in the United States is approximately 40 billion dollars per year; approximately 75% of the US budget for combating the impact of drug use in the United States is spent on apprehending and punishing users and dealers (Ernst, 2020). It is estimated that at any given time, there are more than 87,000 people incarcerated for drug possession, the vast majority of whom have yet to appear in court (Ernst, 2020). The cost of incarcerating drug offenders or supervising them through judicial or other correctional channels is enormous. The situation is made worse by the fact that offenders can be imprisoned for up to twenty-one years before being tried. Despite the difficulties in estimating the inherent costs of criminalizing drug possession and use, it is clear that criminalization is not only costly but also a complete waste of taxpayer resources. According to studies, drug-related incarcerations cost approximately $31,000 per person (Ernst, 2020). As demonstrated in Portugal, decriminalizing drugs would lower the cost of incarceration by significantly lowering the rates of arrest for drug use. Instead, the money could go toward more effective drug-abuse prevention measures, such as treatment programs.

To summarize, the criminalization of drugs has had little success in combating drug use. The continued flourishing trade in drugs around the world has exposed people to the negative consequences of criminalizing drugs, such as corruption, exploitation, and violence. The cost of policing, apprehending, and supervising drug convicts is prohibitively expensive, impeding economic development. Furthermore, studies show that there is no significant link between drug use and criminalization. The legalization of drugs, on the other hand, is positively associated with improvements in citizens’ and the country’s economic, physical, psychological, and behavioral well-being. Essentially, criminalizing drugs has caused more harm to drug abuse victims, business owners, the government, and the economy as a whole. These advantages can be realized by legalizing drugs in all countries around the world.


Ernst, T. (2020). Justifications for Decriminalizing Drugs. International Journal of Social Science Research and Review, 3(1), 15–26.

Hammond, A. S., Dunn, K. E., & Strain, E. C. (2020). Drug Legalization and Decriminalization Beliefs Among Substance-using and Nonusing Individuals. Journal of addiction medicine, 14(1), 56–62.

Laqueur, H. (2015). Uses and Abuses of Drug Decriminalization in Portugal. Law & Social Inquiry, 40(3), 746–781.

Mendes, R. D. O., Pacheco, P. G., Nunes, J. P. C. O. V., Crespo, P. S., & Cruz, M. S. (2019). Literature review on the implications of decriminalization for the care of drug users in Portugal and Brazil. Ciencia & saude coletiva, 24, 3395-3406.

Spencer, N., & Strobl, E. (2020). The impact of decriminalization on marijuana and alcohol consumption in Jamaica. Health policy and planning, 35(2), 180–185.


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When discussing the decriminalization of drugs in Portugal, Chasing the Scream states, “Nothing has to stay the same. If a dogma is not working, no matter how strong and immovable it seems, you can cast it aside and start anew” (Hari, 2015, p. 235). Discuss your thoughts on this statement as it relates to ending the “war on drugs” in the United States, and be sure to discuss and consider such topics as prohibition, decriminalization, and legalization of drugs.

Decriminalization of Drugs

Decriminalization of Drugs

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Initial responses are due by Thursday at 11:59 p.m. ET Initial posts should be 250 words in length Using APA format, please cite and reference the text and include at least one peer-reviewed article to support your post

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