Persuasive Essay On Decriminalization

701 Words 3 Pages
In 1995, Linda Byrnes, now 70 years old, was sentenced to 27 years and 9 months in State prison for “conspiracy to distribute Marijuana” (Can-Do #). This grandmother, although not a user or career dealer of Cannabis, is the perfect representative for the pro-decriminalization corner in the illicit drug use debate. Byrnes and thousands of Americans with similar stories are facing a lifetime of harsh and severe punishment for a disproportionate crime. In order to reduce the number of drug-related cases in the federal criminal system, systematically and strategically decrease and rehabilitate drug addicts, and to successfully fight the war on drugs, policy advocates and those concerned for the health of America believe that the Federal Government …show more content…
Following the example of Portugal, drug use in the United States would still remain unlawful and “drug trafficking offenses remain illegal and [would continue to be] processed through the criminal justice system (Drug policy alliance #).” However, those found to be of first-time possession of a small amount of illicit drug paraphernalia for personal consumption would be given no arrest, prison time, or criminal record. “In most decriminalized states, these offenses are treated like a minor traffic violation”(NORML). Opponents still beg the question:Why make our current laws on the use of illicit drugs lax ? According to the research and result from the Portuguese decriminalization effort, Nuno Capez, a member of the Lisbon Disuassion Comission, reported that “[the commission] came to the conclusion that the criminal system was not best suited to deal with [drug use and addiction]…The best option should be referring them to treatment...” From its adoption of decriminalization in *year*, Portugal has seen its law enforcement and criminal justice system function more effectively and the Country has been able to invest in improving the health and wellbeing of people struggling with drug problems. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the “...number of drug-related problems have …show more content…
In prison, where these addicts are supported by taxpayer money, they are radicalized and conditioned by their environment. Where they would not have been exposed to violence and gangs, state and federal prisons facilitate and in some cases exacerbate the epidemic of criminals by exposing nonviolent offenders to violent ones. The narrative plays like this: a boy is arrested for possession of marijuana. If the boy is from a low income or disadvantaged community - and especially if he is a person of color - he is looking at a minimum of one year in prison. In the penitentiary, the young boy will come into contact with a spectrum of criminals, making connections, and in a years time be tossed back into the world having lost an entire year of education to repeat his crime, likely even to graduate to a larger scale offense. The status quo is a detrimental cycle, even if law enforcement were to successfully capture and imprison every illicit drug offender, officers would be constantly creating new and worse offenders through the incarceration system. Drug possession and use is bad, pro-decriminalization proponents - myself included - agree, but drug use is also a health problem and should be treated as

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