The fight against drugs has taken a turn in recent years with the legalization of marijuana in various states. While South Carolina still has not gotten to that point, there is talk about decriminalizing some drugs. Decriminalizing means lowering penalties, such as making felony charges into misdemeanors, according to Urban Institute.
Decriminalization is already happening in some states, such as California and Oklahoma. Many more states have laws in consideration to lower drug charges or remove them altogether. For example, some states have made it no longer a crime but only a civil offense to possess a quantity of drugs under a certain amount. The process of changing the laws regarding drugs can do a lot of good for society.
Reduction of the prison population
It is no secret that there is an overcrowding issue in prisons across the country. Reducing drug crimes to misdemeanors eliminates many of the sentences for incarceration. Fewer people heading to prison helps to reduce the strain on that system.
Shifts in focus
Decriminalizing does not mean that drug users get off without any penalty. Drugs are still illegal, so those people must face consequences for breaking the law. However, the focus shifts from locking users up to helping them overcome their addiction. Instead of going to jail, they may go into rehabilitation or counseling. This has a more positive long-term impact than putting users behind bars.
Benefits for society
In general, the state saves money when it reduces drug crimes. Because many individuals will no longer face having a felony record, it increases their employability. This means more workers and fewer unemployed people. Plus, helping citizens get off drugs is a good thing for a community that brings with it many benefits.
While decriminalization is in its early stages, the data so far shows it has a positive impact on everyone. South Carolina has not yet changed its criminal drug laws, but there is talk among lawmakers that is promising.