The massive enforcement of laws criminalizing personal drug use and possession in the United States causes devastating harm. Enforcement ruins individual and family lives, discriminates against people of color, and undermines public health. The federal and state governments should decriminalize the personal use and possession of illicit drugs.
The long-term consequences can separate families; exclude people from job opportunities, welfare assistance, public housing, and voting; and expose them to discrimination and stigma for a lifetime. While more people are arrested for simple drug possession in the US than for any other crime, mainstream discussions of criminal justice reform rarely question whether drug use should be criminalized at all.