The topic of decriminalizing illegal drugs has been a sensitive one for some time. Some countries, like Portugal, have made the move to classifying illegal drug possession as a public health issue, rather than a criminal one, but the United States has remained firmly against the decriminalization of illicit substances.
Even though some states in our country have started to legalize marijuana, the Federal government still maintains that the drug is illegal. Even though Portugal has decriminalized drug use, the country does not actually condone the behavior. Despite the fears of some people, the drug-related death rates and HIV infection rates have reportedly declined, while usage has not increased.
One important difference that seems to be missing – potentially the key middle ground – is that decriminalization doesn’t have to be the same as legalization. In other words, drug possession and use can still be illegal, but people are just fined and deferred to treatment for repeat offenders rather than having to go to jail and generating a criminal record. The money from the fines could help fund public treatment programs.
There are other factors involved in the improvement of the drug problem in Portugal, possibly cultural conditions that are different than the U.S. that have a positive impact as well. Instead, here we have pop culture glorifying substance abuse and young people emulating it in every state. The reality is that as long as there is a desire or demand for the drugs, there will always be a supply, regardless of the threat of punishment. The harder it is to get drugs, the more profitable it is for the suppliers. The money generated from this business, as well as the money used to enforce the laws, is much better spent elsewhere.
Regardless of the drug laws, there is the reality that people who are addicted to drugs need help and must stop before they destroy their lives. This where friends and family members can step in with some form of intervention. If you have a loved one in trouble with substance abuse, contact Family First Intervention today to find out more about this successful process.