Point/Counter Point: Should Drugs be Decriminalized?


Emily Thomas, Opinion Editor; Ollie McCray, Staff Writer

Emily Thomas and Ollie McCray

“If one wants to truly help people who are suffering from addiction, to help them get back to living healthy and happy lives, decriminalizing drugs has become the dominant approach to achieving this.”

Emily Thomas, Opinion Editor

  On Friday, April 1, 2022, the House passed a legislation to decriminalize the use of marijuana at the federal level. While this act is currently being pushed further into action, many still question the justifications behind it and fear that the decriminalization of marijuana could lead to the decriminalization of many other drugs. Despite the many arguments made against it, there are many proven benefits to decriminalization that people believe will hold true with the recent legislation.

   One important point largely backing the decriminalization argument is the objective to get addicts help. Previously, when people were caught in possession of drugs, like marijuana, they were sent to jail. While in jail, the convicts were there strictly to serve out their time, to then be released back into the world. The issue with this is that the glaring signs of addiction amongst those sentenced to jail were largely ignored. During their sentences, very few people ever receive help to overcome their addiction. Instead, they are released with a mere warning not to continue their actions. For most addicts, these words mean nothing. They need the physical help that rehabilitation centers provide. The hope is that decriminalizing drugs will ultimately reduce the number of people sent to jail and will instead increase the number of those being sent to get actual help. Additionally, if there is a decrease in the fear of legal repercussions, it is expected that many more people will turn themselves in, in order to receive the help they were once afraid to get.

   Not only will more people receive help, those recovering from treatment can become functional members of society, rather than having to be defined as criminal addicts for the rest of their lives. Often, those who are sentenced to jail time and later overcome their addiction have a difficult time rebuilding their reputation, because they do, technically, have a crim-inal record. Decriminalization can cut out that middle man and allow people to fully make addiction a part of their past, not a haunting memory that ruins any chance for improvement. It will also change other socioeconomic aspects of society, as people from lower income areas – typically areas with higher rates of drug abuse – will be able to have easier access to rehabilitation. This can ultimately help lift some out of poverty, due to a decrease in criminal records.

   Lastly, decriminalizing drugs can change society’s mentality towards addiction. While there are most certainly legal aspects to drug use, it is a disease. People who suffer from addiction have a chemically changed mind and often no matter how much they might want to stop, their body won’t let them. Changing how society sees addiction – a serious disease rather than (always) criminal like choices – emphasizes the need to attack the issue of addiction from a scientific and medical lens, as opposed to always punishing people who need serious help.

   It’s also important to note that decrim-inalization does not necessarily mean legalization. The sale of drugs still remains illegal and those who are fueling the crisis of addiction should have serious punishments. If one wants to truly help people who are suffering from addiction, to help them get back to living healthy and happy lives, decriminalizing drugs has become the dominant approach to achieving this. 


“…decriminalizing drugs would lead to more drug dependency and crime.”

Ollie McCray, Staff Writer

  People have their own opinions about decriminalizing drugs. Some think certain drugs should be legal. While they all have their own reasons, it’s possibly because they are under 21 and cannot legally buy the drugs they want or they are tired of using people of age to buy their drugs. People get addicted to drugs easily and most of them are underage and still in high school. Addiction can be dangerous, especially for teenagers and young adults. A person’s brain is only fully developed at 25 years of age. A young person goes through numerous biological and psychological changes until time. It is particularly important to maintain and healthy lifestyle and avoid drugs until the brain has been fully developed.

   Decriminalizing drugs would allow teens have an easier access to drugs. Drug abuse can impact the brain’s ability to function in the short term as well as prevent proper growth and development in the long run. Personally, I think drugs including Nicotine, Cigarettes, Meth and more should stay illegal to anyone under 25. People underage that use drugs can cause their mental health go downhill. They will start to let themselves fall apart and start abusing more drugs.

   A typical dread is that decriminalizing drugs would lead to more drug dependency and crime. Information from the U.S. and around the world propose that treating problematic drug use as a medical problem, rather than a criminal one, is a more successful model for maintaining communities healthy and safe. But when there isn’t a legal barrier to prevent drug access, the system of a free market takes over. This means there’s a bigger supply of the drug available, which would reduce the prices. If the pricing is preventing others from experimentation, then the decriminalization of drugs would encourage them to try something when they might not have done so. Some drugs only take one dose to become addictive or even life-threatening.

   Decriminalization can also lead to legalization. This potential is very possible. With some drugs, such as marijuana, legalization can provide tax benefits to pay for schools and other industries, along with treatments. For stronger drugs like heroin or meth, decriminalizing it’s use can be less than the risk to communities that these drugs cause. Some drugs sometimes lead up to temper changes and violence.

   While the price of drugs would reduce, the price for treating addictions would rise. The current infrastructure might not be able to support the additional number of individuals who seek help, meaning added costs would come in the form of buildings and training more counselors to take care of the needs of society.