Interesting. Here is what Portugal did. The drugs were still illegal, however, consequences resulted in treatment and counseling rather than prison.Ten years ago, the Lisbon neighborhood was a hellhole, a "drug supermarket" where some 5,000 users lined up every day to buy heroin and sneaked into a hillside honeycomb of derelict housing to shoot up. In dark, stinking corners, addicts — some with maggots squirming under track marks — staggered between the occasional corpse, scavenging used, bloody needles. At that time, Portugal, like the junkies of Casal Ventoso, had hit rock bottom: An estimated 100,000 people — an astonishing 1 percent of the population — were addicted to illegal drugs. So, like anyone with little to lose, the Portuguese took a risky leap:They decriminalized the use of all drugs in a groundbreaking law in 2000.
Portugal's drug policy pays off; US eyes lessons - Yahoo! News
Here are some of their results:
1) There were small increases in illicit drug use among adults, but decreases for adolescents and problem users, such as drug addicts and prisoners.
2) Drug-related court cases dropped 66 percent.
3) Drug-related HIV cases dropped 75 percent. In 2002, 49 percent of people with AIDS were addicts; by 2008 that number fell to 28 percent.
4) The number of regular users held steady at less than 3 percent of the population for marijuana and less than 0.3 percent for heroin and cocaine — figures which show decriminalization brought no surge in drug use.
5) The number of people treated for drug addiction rose 20 percent from 2001 to 2008.
Interestingly enough, the government found that there was no additional cost. Monies were just diverted from the legal system to the public health system.
The benefits of this plan are pretty obvious, though I would like to see some statistics on recidivism of the addicts that received treatment.
This is very similar to the plan that I have outlined here at DP, several times. Do you think this could work in the US, and if so, how?