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Drugs Decriminalization

Since decades ago drugs has been an illicit things that is illegal under the governments
law. It is accused for such behavior, like paranoia, aggressiveness, impulsiveness and loss of self-
control. Thus, countries has declared war on drugs for using and selling drugs. But an interesting
fact is that, according to (Hughes & Stevens, 2010) countries that have adopted less punitive
policies toward drug possession have not experienced any significant increases in drug use, drug-
related harm or crime relative to more punitive countries. The problem with drugs is that whether
it is illegal or not, people who are addicted to it will keep using it anyway. So, there is no or less
probability that criminalizing drugs has great effect to decrease drugs users.
Drugs Decriminalization in Portugal and Switzerland
Based on this founding, Portugal, has been decriminalizing drugs since 2001. The law
maintained the status of illegality for using or possessing any drug for personal use without
authorization. Portugal decided to treat possession and use of small quantities of these drugs as a
public health issue, not a criminal one. The drugs were still illegal, but it only meant a small fine
and a referral to a treatment program, no criminal records. Data has shown that drug use among
young adults has fallen since 2001, which was after the end of war on drugs. And new HIV cases
among drug users are also decreasing. (Ingraham, 2015)
Following Portugal, another country which also decriminalized drugs is Switzerland. The
law stated that anyone found with up to 10 grams of the substance will be able to avoid all formal
legal proceedings, instead paying an on-the-spot fine of CHF 100 (around 68). The purpose is
to shrink the number of children smoking cannabis. Unicef reported that from 29 developed
countries, Switzerland had the second-highest rate of cannabis use amongst those surveyed, behind
only Canada. (Withnall, 2013)
Criminalization is costly and ineffective
It is found that 1 in 100 U.S. citizens is now confined in prison. Which makes up more
people per capita than 26 of the largest European nations combined. It says that the current
incarcerated population is 2.2 million which is a 500 percent growth over the past 40 years. The
high number of prisoners, must been said, has a great effect on the governments budget. In New
York City, the local government paid $167,731 to feed, house and guard each inmate in 2012,
which is not a small amount. Thus being said, that not little amount of the tax goes to the prison.
If criminalization is effective, then the results are contradictive, it is found that 60 to 80 percent of
drug abusers commit a new crime after release from prison. And approximately 95 percent return
to drug abuse after released from prison.
Demand for Drugs is Inelastic
Hence the drugs users are usually addicted, the demand for drugs is inelastic. Thus, no matter how
the price changes, the demand will be indifferent. In many cases, the price of drugs rarely drops,
because its hard to get and it is high risk, the price of drugs keep raising. (Becker, Murphy, &
Grossman, 2004)
Drugs also has good use
Drugs which commonly perceived as negative, also has good use, for medical treatment. Because
it is illegal, many drug therapy is jeopardized. Like, marijuana has been found good for treating
nausea from chemotheraphy, asthma and glaucoma. (Farr, 1990)
In conclusion, the action that Portugal and Switzerland take on drugs is relatively a good thing. In
order to decrease drug users, government must take actions for healthcare, rehabilitation, and also
law enforcement. And as drug is an industry itself, if the government is willing to take further
actions to legalize drugs it is adviced that drugs should be taxed. Because the demand for drugs is
inelastic, and as thegovernment spent its budget on rehabilitation, itd be just fair to taxed drugs in
order to increase governments revenue.

Becker, G., Murphy, K., & Grossman, M. (2004). The Economic Theory of Illegal Goods:
The Case of Drugs. NBER Working Paper, (10976). https://doi.org/10.3386/w10976
Farr, K. A. (1990). Revitalizing the Drug Decriminalization Debate. Crime & Delinquency,
36(2), 223237. https://doi.org/10.1177/0011128790036002003
Hughes, C., & Stevens, A. (2010). What can we learn from the Portuguese decriminalization of
illicit drugs? British Journal of Criminology. Retrieved from
http://bjc.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2010/07/21/bjc.azq038.short
Ingraham, C. (2015). Why hardly anyone dies from a drug overdose in Portugal. Washington
Post. Washington DC. Retrieved from
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2015/06/05/why-hardly-anyone-dies-
from-a-drug-overdose-in-portugal/?utm_term=.763ac1e4a787
Withnall, A. (2013). Switzerland changes law to decriminalise marijuana possession.
Independent UK. Retrieved from
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/switzerland-changes-law-to-
decriminalise-marijuana-possession-8856308.html