You should consider following the example of Oregon, which recently passed a ballot measure decriminalizing personal possession of all drugs, according to Mary Bassett of Harvard T.H. Bassett, who served as a doctor in Harlem in the 1980s and later as New York City's health commissioner, wrote: devastation caused by the criminalization of drug use, particularly among communities of color. Fear of punishment drove drug use underground, causing overdoses The war on drugs led to thousands of arrests of black people for drug violations, mostly for possession, he said. In addition, drug convictions that create barriers to housing, education and employment have entrenched entire communities in generations of poverty.
She wrote that during her tenure as health commissioner, she advocated moving away from punishing people struggling with addiction to a “health-based and evidence-based approach that included increasing voluntary drug treatment and reducing arrests for drug possession. Decriminalization has the potential to reduce the burden on the police and the criminal justice system. It also eliminates the negative consequences (including stigma) associated with criminal convictions for drug use. The initiative approved in Oregon will decriminalize the possession of small quantities of cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, LSD and other drugs.
Numerous animal pets took up the cause of warning children about drugs and safety, including Daren the Lion, who educated children about drugs and bullying, and McGruff the Crime Dog, who taught children to open their hearts and minds to authority figures. The passage of these bills seems to reflect the idea that voters are beginning to reject the so-called war on drugs and their emphasis on addressing the nation's drug epidemic through a criminal justice approach and moving towards the public health approach that is so clearly needed. But as in the rest of the country, they have experienced much higher arrest rates for drug possession here than whites. The Oregon Criminal Justice Commission estimates that Measure 110 will reduce those disparities and will generally result in about 4,000 fewer Oregonians a year being convicted of possession of illegal drugs for felony or misdemeanor offenses.
But Oregon became the first state to decriminalize the possession of small quantities of drugs such as cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine. State Criminal Justice Commission records show that about 9,000 people were arrested each year in Oregon for simple drug possession prior to Measure 110. If the new laws reshape the market, those who sell drugs could target younger customers, something that no one wants. Decriminalization applies to a large extent to crimes of drug use and possession, not to the sale or supply of drugs. Last fall, Oregon voters decriminalized the possession of small quantities of almost all hard drugs, taking an innovative step away from the model of arrest, indictment and imprisonment for possession that has been a centerpiece of American drug policy since President Richard Nixon declared his War on Drugs 50 years ago a week ago.
LEAD directs people to drug treatment or other support services rather than arresting and reserving them for certain drug law violations, including low-level possession and sales. Of course, there are compelling arguments in support of the effort to decriminalize simple drug use and drug possession.