Decriminalization of drugs is often a topic of discussion among lawmakers, but that does not mean that people understand what it means. The topic is very easy to misunderstand because it seems as if it means legalizing drugs, which is not the idea at all.
According to Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, decriminalization means reducing penalties for certain drug crimes. In Maryland, the only drug that has had decreased penalties is marijuana, but other states have done so with different drugs.
There are important reasons behind the push to decriminalize drugs with one of the top being a reduction in prison populations. Many of those behind bars are there for low-level drug crimes, often marijuana. If the laws change, it can help reduce the number of people in prison, freeing the space for more notorious criminals.
In addition, data shows that those most likely to go to prison for drug crimes are minorities. It helps to even out the system and prevents racism within the system. It can also help to prevent repeat offenders and allow for opportunities that someone may not have if they had a criminal record.
How it helps
The Baltimore Sun explains that by reducing drug crime penalties and even making some drug possession legal, the state can help make it easier for people to seek treatment. They will no longer be afraid to seek help due to the possible legal consequences.
It would also help to expand the benefits into making the streets safer and allowing communities ravaged by drugs to renew themselves.