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First, I wanted to share a story about my cousin. My cousin was a NCAA Division I prospect for football and basketball until he got hooked onto drugs. He was in and out of prisons where he would tell me that it was almost easier to get drugs in prison opposed to out of prison. He went to prison 3 or 4 times and did the bare minimum, and no one showed any support to help him, but instead constantly punished for his criminal record. He was too scared to get help worried of returning to prison, he trusted no one, not even his own Mom. Since his first arrest, he never stood a chance. He recently was sentenced to jail for 30 years for his fifth time being caught with heroine. He will be stuck in a prison cell until he is over 60 years old because he could not get proper treatment to address the public health issue he struggles with.
Portugal decriminalized all drugs in 2001, and it resulted in positive ways. Drugs were not legalized, meaning that weed, cocaine and heroin and all other drugs are still illegal. They are illegal, yet the use and possession of such substances does not result in jail time and criminal records, but instead with a fine and optional or mandatory treatment. It should be treated more along the lines of a public health issue, where individuals who struggle with drug use is not afraid to get help because they do not want to go to jail. In Portugal, ever since they decriminalized drugs, they average three deaths due to overdose per 1 million citizens. Europe averages about 18 overdoses per 1 million citizens. America has experienced a rapid growth in the number of overdoses since the 1960's. America also has overpopulated prisons with a huge number of individuals in for minor drug crimes like possession of marijuana.
America could make progress in the drug war by decriminalizing drugs like Portugal, which could benefit the citizens as a public health issue and removing individuals from prison who are struggling with a health issue opposed to a criminal issue. Decriminalizing drugs may encourage more to get help with their drug issues and may lower the amount of overdoses in the United States.
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