Target: President Barack Obama
Goal: Decriminalize drug use and small amount possession in the U.S.
The War on Drugs has been fought unsuccessfully using military force, long prison sentences, and billions of dollars. Ten years ago Portugal decriminalized possession of all drugs resulting in a decrease in drug use of all kinds and lowered HIV infection rates. Please sign this petition and urge President Obama to decriminalize drugs using the successful legislation implemented in Portugal as a model.
The United States incarcerates more people than any other country in the world, costing $24,000 per inmate per year. According to the Justice Policy Institute, “approximately one-quarter of those people held in U.S. prisons or jails have been convicted of a drug offense. The United States incarcerates more people for drug offenses than any other country. With an estimated 6.8 million Americans struggling with drug abuse or dependence, the growth of the prison population continues to be driven largely by incarceration for drug offenses.” With rising drug use rates, expensive prison sentences, a lack of rehabilitation resources and associated high recidivism, it is obvious that the War on Drugs is failing and needs to be reformed.
In 2001, Portugal decriminalized possession of all drugs in response to the country’s high HIV/AIDS statistics. People found to be using drugs go before a panel of social workers and counselors to explain their situation and receive an administrative punishment. Offenders received time in therapy, rehabilitation, and community service rather than fines, waivers, or jail time. Since decriminalizing, Portugal has the lowest rate of marijuana usage in people over 15 in the EU: about 10%. Drug use of all kinds has declined in Portugal. Lifetime use among seventh to ninth graders fell from 14.01% to 10.6%. Lifetime heroin use among 16-18 year olds fell from 3.5% to 1.8%. HIV infection rates among drug users fell by 17%, while drug related deaths were reduced by more than half.
The U.S must stop wasting money on failed efforts in the War on Drugs and refocus the attack with the intent in focus: reducing rates of use. We must learn from the strides made in Portugal and reformulate their tactics to U.S. culture. Please sign this petition urging the decriminalization of drugs in order to rehabilitate the addicted, and prevent addiction in the future.
Dear President Obama,
The War on Drugs has been waged unsuccessfully for long enough. High incarceration rates and large amounts of drugs seized are not signs of success in reducing drug use. I am writing to urge you to learn from the results seen after 10 years of decriminalization in Portugal. Decreased drug use across the board as well as reduced HIV infection rates prove that decriminalization needs to be analyzed as a viable option for the U.S.
Therapy, rehabilitation and community service is dealt to offenders rather than fines or jail time. Intervention at the time of offense is critical to building rapport, increasing motivation, and predicting a person’s ability to engage in treatment. Therapeutic demands still require an offender to be responsible for their offense, while encouraging change and providing support. Long term results show reduced rates of recidivism and thus lower cost of incarceration.
Ten years after Portugal decriminalized drugs, the country has the lowest rate of marijuana usage in people over 15 in the EU (about 10%). Drug use of all kinds has declined in Portugal. Lifetime use among seventh to ninth graders fell from 14.01% to 10.6%. Lifetime heroin use among 16-18 year olds fell from 3.5% to 1.8%. HIV infection rates among drug users fell by 17%, while drug related deaths were reduced by more than half.
Please take bold moves to reform the War on Drugs to reduce rates of use by decriminalizing drugs, providing resources, and increasing awareness and prevention.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: kimoracochran.com via Yahoo