Justifications for Decriminalizing Drugs

  • Theodor Ernst Goethe University Frankfurt, Germany


Drug decriminalization calls for reduced control and penalties compared to existing laws. Proponents of drug decriminalization generally support the use of fines or other punishments to replace prison terms, and often propose systems whereby illegal drug users who are caught would be fined, but would not receive a permanent criminal record as a result. A central feature of drug decriminalization is the concept of harm reduction.

Drug decriminalization is in some ways an intermediate between prohibition and legalization, and has been criticized as being "the worst of both worlds", in that drug sales would still be illegal, thus perpetuating the problems associated with leaving production and distribution of drugs to the criminal underworld, while also failing to discourage illegal drug use by removing the criminal penalties that might otherwise cause some people to choose not to use drugs.

In 2001 began treating use and possession of small quantities of drugs as a public health issue. This also decreases the amount of money the government spends fighting a war on drugs and money spent keeping drug users incarcerated. A number of countries have similarly moved to reduce the penalties associated with drug use and personal possession.


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How to Cite
Ernst, T. (2020). Justifications for Decriminalizing Drugs. International Journal of Social Science Research and Review, 3(1), 15-26. https://doi.org/10.47814/ijssrr.v3i1.30