On November 4, 2020 Oregon was the first state to decriminalize possession of illegal drugs. These drugs, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, oxycodone, crack and others, are now a civil infraction. Police now confiscate the drugs and issue a $50 ticket. The user could avoid paying the fine by seeking substance abuse treatment thus avoiding a felony conviction. Drug dealers would face prosecution. The law only applies to those who possess drugs for their own use. How much is counted as personal possession is still under consideration.
In the year 2000 Holland made marijuana legal and could be bought in a store or smoked at a bar much like Colorado does today. Other “hard drugs” like cocaine, meth, heroin could be obtained by a doctor along with treatments and counseling and not be considered a criminal matter.
As a result, Holland closed many of its prisons, turning some of them into hotels. Prison population was so low that they had to import convicts from Norway rather than permanently close them.
Portugal was the first European country to abolish all criminal penalties for personal drug possession. Five years later, illegal drug use by teenagers declined, and HIV infections decreased. Deaths from heroin were cut in half and people seeking drug intervention doubled. 1. Wikipedia
Think about how many people are serving time in jail for drug offenses! What about the cost of housing these inmates? Is that cheap?
Would ending this war on drugs and replacing it with therapy and substance abuse medications be a less expensive alternative than incarcerating a person for life?
- Wikipedia, Glenn Greenwald, Lessons for Creating Fair and Successful Drug Policies 09/09
- Wikipedia, John Pfaff, A Better Approach to Violent Crime. 01/28/17