Drug decriminalization versus legalization: Here’s the difference

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There’s a lot of buzz right now on drug decriminalization. Not only did Oregon recently become the first state to decriminalize possession of small amounts of all illegal substances, but President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris have made it their mission to do this at the national level with cannabis. Some Americans believe this means the new administration plans to legalize the leaf in a manner similar to alcohol. They would be dead wrong. There are some subtle differences between decriminalization and legalization. What are they? The devil is in the details. When Oregon voters approved a measure to decriminalize the possession of heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine and other hard drugs, it wasn’t doing it so that people could get their hands on this stuff easier. It was a stab at decades of failed drug war policies, dictating that people caught holding this stuff should rot in jail. Why Are Connecticut Wineries Fighting Marijuana Legalization? Massive raid takes out illegal mail order weed ring that supplied nine states Father knows best? Cops find weed and cash hidden inside baby’s crib However, the new decriminalization law strips away these old-school law enforcement practices, making it so that minor drug offenders (those caught in possession of small amounts of these substances) are simply issued a fine and entered into a drug recovery program rather than being tossed into the criminal justice system. That said, there is a preconceived notion about what Oregon is preparing to do. Some believe the state is about to launch a fully legal drug market, making every dangerous substance more accessible to addicts and first-time users. But that’s not what is happening. There’s not going to be a legal system in place where a person can just walk into their local heroin store and buy whatever he…

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