Mapping the world's opinions

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Should we legalize all drugs? Show more Show less

Most countries in the world have laws banning the production, sale, and possession of illicit drugs. Despite billions being spent each year on enforcing these laws, a robust criminal market for drugs persists, and many places are undergoing epidemics of drug addiction. The challenges of enforcing drug prohibitions have led some advocates to propose legalizing drugs, while others maintain that laws and enforcement should only be made stricter. Which strategy makes the most sense? Should we change the status quo and legalize all drugs, or stay the course and focus on enforcement? Or does decriminalization offer a more favorable compromise?

Drugs should be decriminalized, but not legalized Show more Show less

Decriminalization is a less extreme and more rational way forward than outright legalization.
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Addicts need help, not punishment and shame

Most drug addicts are not criminals, but the stigma and legal penalties associated with drug use force them down a criminal path.
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Context

The Argument

The dangers of drug addiction justify the illegal status of many drugs, but the criminalization of drug use is counter-productive and subjects drug addicts to a vicious cycle of stigmatization and recidivism. The illicit nature of most recreational drugs positions them as part of a counter-culture, outside the mainstream of society. Consequently, drug users are often negatively stigmatized by members of the mainstream culture. This isolates drug users and addicts from the societal support networks which can mitigate the worst effects of addiction, lead to health care and employment opportunities, and address mental health problems. Mental illness is a neglected consideration in criticisms of drug addicts which attribute their choices to inherent immorality or criminality. The U.S. Department of Justice estimated that a large majority (76%) of inmates incarcerated for drug-related crimes suffer from mental health issues. The rehabilitation and reintegration of drug addicts into society would be more successful if supporting mental health was the focus rather than applying a more punitive approach. Decriminalization would work toward this purpose without the risk of causing higher rates of addiction.

Counter arguments

Framing

Premises

[P1] Drugs being completely illegal serves to stigmatize drugs so they feel unable to get help. [P2] By decriminalizing drugs, we could get rid of some of the stigma without increasing rates of drug use.

Rejecting the premises

Proponents

Further Reading

References

    This page was last edited on Thursday, 5 Mar 2020 at 17:11 UTC