There is a lot of talk around the country about decriminalizing drugs. The focus is often on marijuana, but in some places it includes other substances as well. When you hear about this movement, it is not uncommon to feel confused about what it means.
The decriminalization of drugs does not mean making all drugs legal. It focuses on lowering penalties and focusing on helping those with drug addictions instead of punishing them.
Free up jail and prison space
One of the main reasons for decriminalization is to stop the overpopulation in prisons and jails. Since many of the arrests and charges stem from possession, lawmakers feel that a better way to handle these situations is through rehabilitation rather than punishment. This keeps people out of lock-up while also helping them to overcome their addictions.
Prevent long-term consequences
Decriminalization also helps people to avoid criminal charges in some cases. Some states conduct a drug court where a person must meet certain criteria and the court will then drop the charges. A situation like this could help you to avoid criminal charges on your record. The criteria will include some type of treatment for drug addiction, so you also get help and can avoid future charges.
Focus on low-level
The move to decriminalize drugs doe not mean that every drug charge is suddenly legal. The focus is more on low-level charges that indicate a person has a substance abuse problem and not those more complex cases where a person may be selling, manufacturing or moving drugs. These laws seek to help those who need it while ensuring punishment remains in effect for those who have made a career out of distributing drugs.