Decriminalization Of Drugs

Decriminalization Of Drugs


In the world of criminal justice, drugs typically fall under two categories: those that are legal and those that are illegal. However, when it comes to drugs like weed, things are much more complicated. It is important to note that in some countries, drugs are still entirely illegal. 

It is because of the intense damage that drugs are known to have on the human body. However, in other countries, these same substances are considered legal to a certain extent. The following article discusses the Decriminalization of drugs, precisely that of weed.

Table of Contents:

What Does Decriminalization Of Drugs Mean?

To understand the concept of Decriminalization, it is essential first to know how it differs from legalization. 

Legalization is the process of making a drug legal but only for a specific group of people. For example, an individual might have a prescription to take a certain amount of a Schedule II drug, such as MMJ. It is because the drug has documented medical benefits.

However, this doesn't apply to all drugs, and no country has legalized all drugs though. On the other hand, decriminalizing drugs means that the possession, use, and distribution of drugs are illegal, but the punishment you receive for these actions will be significantly less harsh.

With Decriminalization, a drug remains illegal to possess and consume. However, certain aspects of the justice process around these crimes are different to reduce penalties or punishments for those caught using or possessing illegal substances.

Countries that have decriminalized drugs do not consider it a felony to possess, give away, or use. But if a violation of public order occurs due to such possession, it is considered a felony. The concept of Decriminalization came from the War on Drugs. 

Many countries have sworn to defeat the drug market, mainly through criminalizing its use, purchase, or distribution. However, after decades of fighting the war on drugs, many have realized that this strategy isn't successful. 

The people are still fighting for their right to consume drugs without fear of being arrested. Decriminalization of drugs is a more humane practice. As a result, countries have begun to decriminalize drugs by reducing penalties and punishments for those caught using illegal substances.  

Instead, they perceive drugs as a normal and accepted part of life and seek to legalize or decriminalize these lawful products. For instance, more than 1.5 million people are arrested every year for drug profit-related violations in the U.S. 

According to some trusted sources, each year, more than 52 million Americans use MMJ. Most of these individuals aren't arrested or imprisoned. However, some countries have not gone to the extent of decriminalizing drugs altogether.

And it's important to note that Decriminalization doesn't mean legalization; it is a part of regulation.

What Are The Benefits Of Decriminalization?

The benefits of the Decriminalization of drugs are many. You can see evidence of this in various countries throughout the world. Some of the notable benefits include

Reduced Crime Rates

The Decriminalization of drugs has caused crime rates in countries to go down. Thanks to the fact that fewer people are in jail for possession and distribution of drugs. Because fewer drugs are being distributed, less money can be obtained from the sale of these substances. 

The result is that less crime has been perpetrated because there aren't as many illegal drug dealers working the streets, and no one needs to risk their freedom and time defending themselves against criminal charges. 

Thus Decriminalization is a way to make a country safer from those who would harm others by selling these substances.

Decreased Prison Populations

Many countries that have decriminalized weed do so because it decreases the prison populations in their country. When drugs are illegal, there is a high demand for them, leading to an increase in the quality and quantity of illegal sales.

People who sell drugs make more money than those who use them, which causes a rise in drug sales and possession. The result of all this is more people being arrested, imprisoned, and shipped to the U.S. from these countries each year for their involvement with substances like MMJ. 

However, with Decriminalization, fewer people are being arrested for selling or possessing drugs. Thus, fewer people are put behind bars. The result is that there are fewer criminals in prison, and it makes facilities easier to manage.

Increased uptake into recovery administrations

The Decriminalization of drugs has led to an increase in people who enter into recovery administrations. When drugs aren't as heavily prosecuted, this means that more drug users seek treatment. 

It is because they no longer fear the consequences of getting caught, and they know that there will be less of a chance they'll be convicted if they go through treatment. Decriminalization also makes it easier for people to get help for their addiction. 

They don't need to worry about going through the legal process and focus on getting better. 

What Does It Mean To Decriminalize Weed?

Each type of addiction is hazardous and can lead to serious health problems. However, not all drugs are addictive; some may not even be considered drugs at all. 

Decriminalization in the context of MMJ means no punishment for people using it, possessing, or distributing the substance. Overall, society is more accepting of the substance, and the result is that people who use it are not prosecuted. In many states, MMJ possession is a violation, but this is no longer the case with Decriminalization.

Because it's not a crime in some countries, people with MMJ use disorders can receive treatment without fear of prosecution if they come forward for help. On the other hand, even in states that have decriminalized weed, people may still be arrested if they drive under the influence of the substance or possess more significant quantities of it.

Even though Decriminalization reduces the potential consequences of using something like MMJ, these drugs are still considered dangerous to human health. Many substances are still harmful to the body, mainly if misused or in excess. 

And while people aren't necessarily afraid of being put behind bars, there are still some risks to consider when taking any drug. But federal law trumps state law regarding drug regulation. So MMJ use can be punishable by arrest and imprisonment in states where it is illegal. 

The MORE Bill 2020 seeks to decriminalize MMJ at the federal level for anyone practicing cannabis in a state that has legalized it within their state. 

It would also mean that these states would no longer be able to prosecute someone under the Controlled Substance Act (C.S.A.). But this also means that anyone using it in a state where it is not legal would still come under the federal government’s scrutiny. 

For instance, a state may put a person behind bars for smoking MMJ in a state where it's illegal, even if the state they live in has decriminalized weed. Many people live in states where it's legal and travel to states where it's unlawful and uses the substance. 

So the federal government is trying to find a balance between allowing states to decide if they want to decriminalize MMJ and not be punished for it and ensuring that people within their condition can't be arrested for using weed.

Will Prior Weed Charges Be Expunged?

Expunging weed charges means that MMJ-related convictions will be wiped off the person's record who receives expungement. It means that they can no longer be prosecuted under state or federal law for their weed conviction.

As the Decriminalization of weed has gained momentum and popularity, there has been a lot of debate around whether or not the state will expunge weed charge records. Currently, in most states, an offense is considered a misdemeanor, and if the person is convicted, they will have to pay a fine and serve probation. 

In some cases, even though it's a misdemeanor, the person could still face prison time. But as cannabis becomes decriminalized, this changes, which means that those with MMJ possession charges might have their records expunged. 

Some conditions need to be met for an expungement to occur. For instance, the person needs to live in a state where cannabis is legal, and they also need to be charged with possession only, not with distribution, trafficking, or other criminal charges. 

The state will not return the fine collected by them to the person who paid them. The court system will still retain these collected funds, but the state may use the funds for public education campaigns about the dangers of MMJ use. 

There are also instances where records are expunged even though the person doesn't live in a state where MMJ is legal. For example, the federal government has the power to expunge criminal records even if it's not legal. 

The Criminal Records Act of 2012 allows for records to expunge if certain conditions are met. Additionally, if someone with a criminal record is applying for jobs, they might have their record expunged, so it is no longer visible on their resume. 

Furthermore, in the United States, especially New York, expungement for MMJ possession is achievable. The state allows for the dismissal or sealing of criminal records even if the person has no prior convictions. 

It means that the person will not have to check a box to indicate they have a criminal history when applying for jobs, housing, or other forms of public assistance. But only certain offenses are eligible for expungement in New York. 

To qualify, the person needs to be charged with low-level, non-violent offenses that would be considered a misdemeanor or violation in most states.


As drug decriminalization continues to gain momentum, more and more states are putting their foot down when it comes to prosecuting people for possession or use of MMJ. Although this is good news in the long run, you still need to be mindful of some things. 

Many states have decriminalized weed, but they are not necessarily making it legal. It means that you may go behind bars for using or possessing MMJ in most states, even if weed is legal in your state, so it's essential to check up on your local laws before you proceed with using any drug. 

Therefore, if you are from a state where weed is illegal, and you travel to a state where it's decriminalized, don't assume that the laws will be the same in both states.


In how many states is weed decriminalized?

As of right now, about 29 U.S. states have decriminalized MMJ to some extent. But even so, it's essential to understand that the laws vary from state to state, so keep this in mind if you are traveling to or across state lines. 

For example, some states may allow for medical use but not recreational use, while others allow people to carry specific amounts without facing prosecution.

What are the states where weed is still illegal?

Nine states have not decriminalized cannabis, Idaho, Louisiana, Georgia, South Carolina, Texas, Florida, Alabama, and Nebraska.

Decriminalization of drugs is a difficult task for any country. What is the progress made by the U.S.A.?

The United States is taking MMJ Decriminalization very seriously, steadily moving towards decriminalizing all drugs. Several efforts are being undertaken to reduce drug-related criminal activities. 

These include the federal government working closely with the states, advocacy groups using research to fight drug myths, and providing information about safe drug use. But there are still some issues that need to be tackled. 

Are there any shortcomings of decriminalizing drugs for countries?

In the long run, adopting a drug decriminalization policy is a win-win situation for all parties involved. It involves society, the government, and all stakeholders. It is a direct attack on drug cartels, promotes better social choice, and reduces crime.

Is decriminalizing drugs an effective way to fight drug abuse?

The answer is both yes and no. It depends on the country based on several other factors like the strength of its economy, social conditions, etc. Adopting this type of policy will depend on certain variables that are yet to be determined. 

How do we determine the effectiveness of decriminalizing drugs?

You can measure the effectiveness of drug decriminalization through the following parameters:

  • Rate and number of drug users 
  • Quality and availability of drug treatment facilities 
  • Crime rate 
  • The government took measures to curb drug abuse

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