Oklahoma prohibits the recreational use of cannabis but allows it to be used legally for medical purposes. As more states legalize marijuana for recreational use, a contentious debate is emerging in the United States over whether to decriminalize all recreational drugs.
Proponents of drug decriminalization
Advocates for decriminalizing drug possession often point to the exorbitant cost of the war on drugs, which runs into tens of billions of dollars annually. In addition, they argue that if drug possession were not considered a violation of criminal law, there would be a reduction in the number of arrests, leading to a decrease in the number of individuals incarcerated.
Shifting the focus from punishment to rehabilitation could potentially increase the uptake of drug treatment. This would involve redirecting resources from criminal justice to healthcare and allowing law enforcement to concentrate on violent and serious crimes. This approach could protect many individuals from the debilitating consequences of being convicted of a crime solely for drug possession.
Opposition to decriminalize drugs
On the opposing side of the argument, some contend that decriminalizing drugs could lead to increased accessibility, potentially exacerbating issues related to drug abuse. In addition, they suggest that the illegality of drugs acts as a deterrent for some individuals.
Critics of drug decriminalization worry that if recreational drugs get legalized, addiction rates may rise, and there could be an increase in motor vehicle accidents and work-related accidents related to drug use. This could lead to a rise in the need for drug testing in all industries, an uptick in criminal activity and the spread of infectious diseases among those who engage in risky behaviors associated with drug use.
Most people on either side of the decriminalization debate agree that reducing substance abuse benefits the population. They believe individuals struggling with substance abuse require assistance to achieve a healthier life.