Decriminalization of Drugs

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Decriminalization of Drugs

The current approach to the “war on drugs” in Canada is flawed. Instead of adding more enforcement efforts to the drug problem, less enforcement might be a better solution. The following essay will give evidence that decriminalization of all drugs can improve the lives of drug abusers, put the country’s resources to a better use than incarcerating people with minor offenses, and make a mark on the war on drugs. Decriminalizing drugs comes with a lot of questions and concerns. Many people believe that decriminalization is not far off from legalization. Without knowing the difference, it can spark a lot of controversy. Amongst other concerns, both politicians and citizens fear that it might increase use and promote drug tourism. First of all, decriminalization is by no means the same as legalization. Legalization involves total freedom of the drug; use, possession, sale, and manufacturing (Greenwald 2). It will not be a free market of drugs available to everybody and anybody who wants them. Decriminalization involves replacing the criminal charge and jail time for using or possessing a drug, with a fine and mandated treatment. Although use would no longer be a criminal offense; trafficking, selling and producing drugs would remain to be a criminal activity. This means that people who do choose to use drugs will still have to encounter shady back door deals and those involved in the drug industry still have the fear of criminal charges and possible incarceration. However, users, rather than facing criminal charges for using or possessing small amounts of a drug, will only be faced with a civil fine or may be mandated to get treatment (Kleiman 27). Since Portugal decriminalized drugs in 2001, they have found that dependence rates, death by drugrelated causes and the use of most drugs have all decreased, while disease avoidance and awareness increase (Greenwald 19-27). Considering that current deterrent efforts of our current drug policy hardly seem to have any effect on lowering these issues; as millions of people around the globe use drugs at least once in their lifetime (Wolff 69), decriminalizing appears to have a better effect on the well being of those who do choose to use drugs. When it comes to drug tourism, there is no reason to believe that people would flock to any country based on available decriminalized drugs lack of criminal repercussions (Greenwald 6). This did not happen when Portugal decriminalized all drugs, or when Holland decriminalized marijuana. There may be a few instances where this will happen, but the government cannot stop everybody. One of the main reasons why I will argue decriminalization will be more effective than the current policy in Canada because it reduces the drug stigma currently in place in many aspects of society. By removing the criminal charge, the government opens up a lot of opportunities for people with a drug abuse problems. A good reason to decriminalize the use of drugs is the fact that it removes the current taboo that our society has placed on drug use. Sher’s perfectionist argument suggests that all users of drugs live in a distorted reality, can’t perform mental functions properly, have no priorities, etc, basically everything we characterize to addicts (Sher 30). If we remove the idea that individuals who use drugs are not good people, or can never get past their addiction, it will encourage them to do better for themselves while providing them with the opportunity to do so. People with a problem will be more encouraged to seek treatment, because they don’t have to be afraid of punishment (Greenwald 9).

Removing the problem-user’s fear of punishment also encourages them to participate in studies. Currently, our laws on drugs, and the societal taboo, discourage addicted users to come forward with their problem. Consequentially, these people remain at the mercy of their addictions, and insufficient studies have been conducted on the effects of...
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