The legalization of marijuana for recreational use in Michigan represents a growing nationwide trend of separating law enforcement from drug use. This trend even encompasses other types of substances, including addictive narcotics. Advocates for drug law reform argue that making drug use a crime leads to more overdose deaths and ballooning court and incarceration costs for communities.
When society views people dependent on controlled substances as criminals, those people hide their problems. They do not want to ask for help because then everyone that they know would look down on them.
According to the Drug Policy Alliance, this stigma keeps people away from treatment that could potentially free them from addiction. Few people can successfully argue that jails and prisons offer the right setting for guiding people toward solutions to their problems.
Decriminalization also sets the stage for increasing access to life-saving naloxone that reverses overdoes. Instead of jailing people for consuming or selling drugs, advocates believe that society would reap greater benefits from increasing access to methadone and buprenorphine that allow people to control their urges for hard drugs and rebuild their lives.
In countries that decriminalized drugs years ago, overdose rates decline, and more people seek treatment. Additionally, the spread of HIV and other diseases associated with intravenous drug use goes down.
Financial benefits of fewer drug arrests
When authorities arrest fewer people on suspicion of felony drug crimes, more people get to move forward in life without a criminal record. Arrests and convictions keep people from getting jobs, which imposes lifelong financial hardship.
As for society, drug decriminalization allows for a reallocation of resources toward enforcement of other laws. Society could spend money to capture violent criminals instead of locking up mostly nonviolent drug offenders.