Criminalizing human behavior is a medieval strategy that DOES NOT WORK. It merely divides us into labels. Let’s learn from the progressive countries that have dealt with this issue seriously and learn from it. All them people who want to inflict pain on others should suffer the same pain they are wishing for.
Does it make sense that you should go to jail for carrying around these substances, some of which people are addicted to and cannot function without? Is the solution to put such people in jail for their illness? Or should we invest more time and funding into education programs and treatment facilities? It is worth noting that many of the people charged with possession are not even dealers or drug addicts; they just happen to use drugs recreationally and were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Do these people really deserve the harsh punishment of jail time and a criminal record? It is one thing to sell and traffic illegal drugs, another entirely to simply have them in your possession. These laws desperately need to be reevaluated and it’s wonderful to see Oregon leading the way in this modern upheaval of an old and failed system.
It wasn’t too long ago that marijuana was decriminalized in many states and across Canada. This has proved to be beneficial for communities, judicial systems, drug trafficking — even addiction. We have seen the benefits from this move in action, so it looks like Oregon is taking note, and acknowledging that taking substances does not make someone a criminal.
Have We Learned From Portugal?
One fine example of what happens when you decriminalize illegal drugs possession can be seen in Portugal, which decriminalized the use of all drugs in 2001. This includes marijuana, heroin, cocaine, meth — you name it. Portugal made the decision to treat use and possession (in small quantities) as a public health issue rather than a criminal issue.
Since passing these laws, Portugal now has one of the lowest instances of drug related deaths in Europe, a statistic that runs directly counter to the rhetoric of our anti-drug laws and the deeply misguided War on Drugs. Making these substances less illegal actually saves more lives in the end, as those suffering from drug abuse are met with a helping hand rather than a jail sentence, and this has been monumental in treating the issues that once plagued Portugal.
Portugal has proved that the decriminalization of drugs doesn’t come with the dire consequences that many predicted. The Transform Drug Policy Institute said in its analysis of Portugal’s drug laws, “The reality is that Portugal’s drug situation has improved significantly in several key areas. Most notably, HIV infections and drug-related deaths have decreased, while dramatic rise in use feared by some has failed to materialize. “