Someone is arrested for a drug law violation every 20 seconds in the United States. The consequences of a single arrest can impact a person’s freedom, job, health, and family. While states that have legalized marijuana have seen a decline in marijuana arrests, other drug-related arrests have increased. Drug criminalization continues to be a top reason for mass incarceration in the United States.
If you have been charged with a drug violation in Louisiana, inform yourself about the larger issues at play and the national conversation about drug criminalization. Ultimately, your best resource in a drug violation case will be an experienced drug crimes attorney.
Why Is Criminalization a Problem?
Each year, the United States makes more than 1.5 million drug arrests, more than any other crime. Those convicted of a drug crime can face severe consequences like the loss of financial aid, eviction from public housing, or disqualification from numerous occupational licenses. The majority of convicted crimes are for possession only and involve no violent offense. If you are among this group, you could face severe penalties if convicted. Work with a criminal defense attorney to prevent this.
Around the country, Black adults are more likely to be arrested for drug possession than white adults. Black people comprise 13% of the population, yet 29% of people arrested for drug law violations are Black Americans.
Non-citizens, including permanent residents, can face deportation if convicted of a drug crime. Many of these people have been in the country for decades, but possession of any drug can trigger automatic deportation, often without the ability to return. The only exception is for first-time offenders who have less than 30 grams of marijuana.
Prison Does Not Help Addicts
Drug addiction is a severe problem, and many people with an addiction end up in jail multiple times for repeat offenses. The revolving door of incarceration does not help individuals recover from drug addiction. Instead of jailing people struggling with addiction, officials may consider sending these individuals to a rehabilitation center to help them overcome their addiction. Rather than wasting time and money with court hearings and incarceration, rehabilitation allows addicts to overcome their disease. They may also be less likely to return to drugs after rehab than after jail. Rehabilitation may pave the way for former addicts to become productive members of society rather than inmates.
Should the U.S. Decriminalize Drugs?
In recent years, there have been efforts to reduce drug penalties. Some of these efforts include reducing drug possession to a misdemeanor and decriminalizing marijuana possession. However, there are a variety of factors that lawmakers consider when decriminalizing drug use.
- Decriminalization benefits public health and safety
- Drug possession arrests increase incarceration rates
- Addiction treatment is less expensive than prison
While there are pros to decriminalizing drug use and possession, there are also some cons. Some are:
- Decriminalization may lead to a push for legalization for some substances
- With an increased supply of drugs on the streets, prices may fall, tempting people to experiment
- Existing treatment resources are not large enough to handle a potential influx of new addicts
While lawmakers may legalize marijuana, the decriminalization of drugs does not mean a free-for-all when it comes to usage. Users cannot get high in public and buy and sell from whomever. It merely changes the way officials deal with the issue.
It’s important to remember that decriminalization and legalization are not the same. Decriminalization is the act of removing criminal sanctions against an act, article, or behavior. Legalization, however, is the process of removing all legal prohibitions against an action.
Get Representation for Drug Charges in Louisiana
Laws surrounding drug charges are confusing, which is why it’s essential to find a defense attorney who is knowledgeable about up-to-date regulations and understands how to defend against criminal charges. If you’ve been accused of a drug-related offense in Louisiana, the lawyers at The John D. & Eric G. Johnson Law Firm can help. With over 25 years of experience, our lawyers will help you get your life back on track.
Eric Johnson is respected throughout Louisiana and is known for providing reliable representation that wins cases. Call (318) 377-1555 or complete our contact form to schedule a free consultation.