Decriminalizing Drugs

Although it might sound appealing, decriminalizing hard drugs would ultimately be a mistake.


Decriminalization is the process of making something (like drugs) legal to a certain extent. If drugs were decriminalized, small amounts would not lead to arrest and criminal charges.Some places have already done this, including Portugal and Oregon. In most of the US today, however, drugs remain a criminal offense. Some people are in favor of decriminalizing because it might save money by reducing arrests and policing. People also see it as a ‘freedom’ issue. Other people oppose this, because if it goes wrong, it might lead to more drug use, sales, crimes, and overdoses. Decriminalization of all drugs would be a terrible idea.If all drugs got decriminalized the usage would almost certainly rise, which would cause more addictions and overdoses throughout the years.

Based on the most recent data from the US, it seems to be that decriminalization of all drugs in the US might not be such a great idea. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse: , in 2019 alone opioid misuse killed 50,000 people alone in that year. These deaths cost the US 78.5 billion dollars a year. These deaths have a dramatic impact on our “public health along with social and economic welfare”. One of the main causes of these addiction is due to a company that lied about how additive these drugs were. This started a chain reaction and more doctors began to prescribe these drugs, which in turn caused usage, addiction, and overdoes to increase. If we decriminalized all drugs, this would be the third link in that chain that could cause more deaths, cost more money for the US and potentially cause people to try different types of drugs. In an article from Vox it states, in a span of “3-4 years these drug addiction/overdose cost the US a total of 2.5 trillion dollars”. The White House Council of Economic Advisers has stated that these numbers could be greatly underestimated. So what does this all mean? It could mean that decriminalizing all drugs in the US isn’t such a great idea. It could potentially cause the overdose rates to increase which mean more money spent by the US each year.

On the other hand, Since 2001 Portugal has decriminalized all drugs, and from the way that the numbers are looking it has seemed to pay off. According to the Washington Post, the overall use of drugs in Portugal by young adults has fallen very much since 2001 compared to the U.S that had 64,000 Overdoses in 2016 alone. They’ve also said that the HIV cases have dropped drastically since 2001. In the article linked above, it also shows a chart with numbers showing all of the countries’ overdoses in Europe and Portugal is the second lowest. It makes you ask yourself, though,is it only the result of decriminalization, because in Romania where drugs are still illegal their overdose rate is lower than Portugal. In another source from Time, they talk about the decriminalization of all drugs in Portugal and some of the laws they put into place. Even though they have decriminalized all drugs, they have still made set restrictions, which is you may only carry a less than a 10 day supply before it is a criminal offense. The Time article has stated that in the 90’s alone 5,000 drug users were living on the streets and that has improved since 2001 when all drugs were decriminalized. This means that decriminalization of all drugs so far has proved to pay off in forms of less accidental overdoses, and people being able to get off of the streets. This is important partly because no one wants to hear about people overdosing on drugs every other day. Those in favor of decriminalizing believe that it will save money for countries such as the US who spent billions of dollars in the late 90’s cracking down on drug users. At the end of the day, decriminalizing all drugs has seemed to pay off so far, but we don’t truly know until more countries choose to do the same.

That said, In a document from the US Department of Justice, they have a few table charts that have some information with different numbers that deal with people going to jail for drug related reasons. One table tells that roughly 82% of inmates that have ever used drugs in any part of their life. Another table points out that roughly 42% of inmates used drugs at the time of the offense. The final chart has the percentage of people who have gone to jail for “trying to get money for drugs”. This table has the best information linking drug use to crime, because this percentage is the people who have gone to jail while trying to get money for drugs and or useage, or trying to distribute drugs. The table states that out of “29.9% state prisoners, 28.8% have been sentenced for drug related offenses”. On a normal day, a regular person who does take any type of methamphetamines does not commit a violent act. According to a pdf from WHO, there is some pretty good information about drug users and their tendencies. Who reports that in Los Angeles 35% of methamphetamine users ages 18-25 were found to have committed violent acts of crime while under the influence”. It also states that “victims and family members believed that 92% of perpetrators of intimate partner violence had used drugs or alcohol.” This all seems to lean in the direction that if you take a hard drug, you are more susceptible to commit a heinous crime. All of this reinforces why it would not be a good idea to decriminalize any drugs.

In conclusion, decriminalization of all drugs wouldn’t be such a good idea, because it could potentially do more damage to the country before any good comes out of it. Whether it’s from adding to the overdose rates, more people on the streets, to even younger kids trying these drugs, the damage would be serious . Decriminalization of drugs could add to more violent crime happening around the world with already 35% of people who commit violent acts on narcotics. This could add to the 5,000 people already on the streets due to drugs they take. If we decriminalized all drugs, it could devastate more families, meaning more kids ending up in DCFS care, more fathers and mothers doing jail time because they are on drugs. All of this could potentially happen if the US decides to decriminalize drugs.