Roosevelt Institute | Cornell University

Decriminalizing Recreational Drug Use - America’s Only Hope of Prioritizing Public Health and Reducing Mass Incarceration is Legalization

By Julia Willett Published January 16, 2022

The United States currently faces widespread drug misuse and overdose. However, criminalizing drug possession and use is largely ineffective at breaking the cycle of abuse and even less effective at solving the larger public health crisis. Instead, tougher punishments build upon a history of mass incarceration and racially-biased policy while overburdening the U.S. prison system. Per the lead of other countries, decriminalization would allow for addiction to be treated as a health problem instead of a crime and, by focusing on rehabilitation, social and economic benefits would follow through centralized drug regulation and a reduced prison population.