Behavioral Health Therapist D.J. Diebold once again tackles a hard, hot-button issue. “Well I think some certainly should be,” Diebold said in regard to whether or not drugs should be decriminalized. The question itself has brought a great deal of controversy in the country as to whether or not it could improve the economy by offering a new market, and whether drug abuse would go up or down. One point seems to stand out on both sides of the spectrum, and that is the matter of incarcerating drug offenders.
THC Managing the Pain
“We’re finding out things we didn’t know in terms of pain relief with THC…” Diebold said. A study published by the Canadian Medical Association Journal in May 2013 showed reasonable success with Multiple Sclerosis.
The study focused on 30 MS patients with painful contractions and who didn’t respond well, or at all, to other treatments. These patients were given marijuana to smoke for a few days and showed a significant decrease in their pain and muscle spasms.
The Incarceration Issue
“We’ve got to take a more humanistic look at how we’re approaching this whole incarceration thing.” A large handful of those in favor of decriminalization of drugs believe that our incarceration rate is incredibly high.
In 2014 there were over 700,000 arrests made in the U.S. for marijuana law violations, 88 percent of which were merely for possession. Over 1.5 million arrests were made for violating U.S. drug laws.
“We have the highest incarceration rate by far. Over Russia and China,” Diebold said. Currently, the United States holds the highest incarceration rate in the entire world. A large majority of those who are incarcerated are there for crimes related to drugs. Whether these crimes are spurred on under the influence of drugs, possession, or caught being used it doesn’t change the facts at hand.
What Needs to Change?
The bottom line is that people will experiment with drugs whether they are legal or not. Some consider marijuana to be a gateway drug, leading youths to experiment with more dangerous narcotics after sampling the plant. Others strongly believe alcohol to be the true gateway drug.The big issue, however, isn’t either of these, but rather how drug crimes are treated: they are punished with incarceration. Not only is this ineffective, it often has the opposite
The big issue, however, isn’t either of these, but rather how drug crimes are treated: they are punished with incarceration. Not only is this ineffective, it often has the opposite effect desired. Addicts end up flocking back to their drug of choice after being in jail because they have had no therapy or teachings on how to resist the urge to use.
Instead of being locked away for years at a time, drug-offenders should be admitted into a drug treatment program. Not only would this help to lower our incredible incarceration rate, but it would also give our people a productive way to deal with life, instead of turning to drugs.