Legalization means that a drug that was once banned is legalized, under federal or state law. Decriminalization means that a drug that was once banned is still prohibited by law, but the legal system will no longer prosecute or criminalize a person for carrying under a certain amount. As will be clear, drug legalization is not a public policy option that lends itself to a simplistic or superficial debate. It requires the dissection and scrutiny of an order that has been notably absent despite the perennial attention it receives.
Beyond the discussion of some proposals defined in a very general way, a detailed evaluation of the operational meaning of legalization has not been made. There is not even a commonly accepted lexicon of terms that would allow for an intellectually rigorous exchange to take place. Legalization, as a consequence, has come to mean different things to different people. Some, for example, use legalization interchangeably with “decriminalization,” which generally refers to eliminating criminal penalties for possession of small quantities of drugs for personal use.
Others equate legalization, at least implicitly, with complete deregulation, without recognizing in the process the extent to which currently legally available drugs are subject to strict controls. In essence, decriminalization of drugs means a reduction in legal penalties for possession. The focus of drug decriminalization is on drug users rather than providers. Decriminalization falls in the area between legalization and prohibition.
When drug use and possession is decriminalized, no criminal charges apply. Cannabis legalization is the process of removing all legal prohibitions against it. Cannabis would be available to the general adult population for purchase and use at will, similar to tobacco and alcohol. Decriminalization is the act of eliminating criminal sanctions against an act, article, or behavior.
Decriminalizing cannabis means it would still be illegal, but the legal system would not prosecute a person for possession below a specific amount. Instead, sanctions would range from no sanction, civil fines, drug education, or drug treatment. By definition, the legalization of a drug would mean that you can acquire, possess and use that drug without fear of criminal prosecution. Alcohol would be a good comparison here.
It is, technically speaking, a drug that could have potentially serious harm if abused. The government realized it was foolish to ban alcohol, and is on track to realize the same thing about marijuana specifically. But what about legalizing all drugs? What are the arguments for enacting such comprehensive legislation?. While the debate about “legalization” and “decriminalization” continues, the terms are often used interchangeably in error.
However, there is more than just a semantic difference between the two. Legalization would mean that one can possess or use the drug in accordance with the guidelines and limitations that govern marijuana use. Typically, these guidelines will be codified by a state law that will establish the amount of marijuana a person can possess. If marijuana is legalized in a particular state, people who use marijuana as permitted by state law will not face any criminal charges because they will not participate in any illegal activity.
A previous evaluation by several Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) agencies, including the FDA, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), concluded that there are no strong scientific studies to support the medical use of marijuana and no human data supported the safety or efficacy of marijuana for general medical use. The legalization of drugs requires a return to attitudes prior to the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906, when almost all drugs were legal. Full legalization is often proposed by groups such as libertarians who oppose drug laws on moral grounds, while regulated legalization is suggested by groups such as Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, which oppose drug laws on the grounds that they fail to achieve their stated objectives and instead in great measure. worsen problems associated with the use of prohibited drugs, but recognize that there are harms associated with currently banned drugs that must be minimized.
Since then, 20 more states and the District of Columbia have legalized and regulated medical marijuana. Another argument against legalization and decriminalization is the belief that marijuana is an entry drug. While the effects of marijuana in terms of health and function are considered rather minuscule compared to extreme narcotics, it can still be an indicator of what could happen if other drugs were legalized. One drug producer even said: “I would like Americans to stop this legalization, because of how much their marijuana trade was paralyzed by legalization.
There has been a lot of debate surrounding the legalization and decriminalization of marijuana in the United States. Across the United States, several individuals and groups have been pushing for the legalization of marijuana for medical reasons. The country's views have changed dramatically on drugs since the Reagan years, and there are far more supporters than opponents when it comes to legalizing marijuana. Proponents of legalization admit that consumption would likely increase, but counteract that it is not axiomatic that the increase is very large or that it lasts a long time, especially if legalization were combined with appropriate public education programs.