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Thursday, November 13, 2014

ACLU Decriminalizing Drug Possession

Decriminalizing drug possession is one sure way of reducing the stigma of addiction. In the United States our jails and prisons have become overcrowded due to draconian drug laws, which systematically created career criminals out of suffering people. Earlier this year, following U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder’s testimony in favor of reducing drug sentences, the U.S. Sentencing Commission voted to reduce the base offense for drug offenders caught with various amounts of drugs.

Taking the move one step further, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLUS) plans to refocus its efforts away from marijuana legalization to decriminalizing drug possession, according to U.S. News & World Report.

There are now four states that allow recreational marijuana use, which has prompted the ACLU to change its position. “What the marijuana legalization votes tell us is the door is open to reconsidering all of our drug laws,” said Alison Holcomb, National Director of the ACLU’s new nationwide campaign against “mass incarceration.”

The ACLU movement will be funded by a $50 million grant from billionaire George Soros’ Open Society Foundations. 

 Last week, California voters approved Proposition 47 by 58 percent. Prop. 47 lowers penalties for drug possession and other nonviolent crimes. It also allows the reclassification of felony drug convictions to misdemeanors and calls for sentencing reductions for current inmates.

“When it comes to criminal justice and drug policy, Americans are thinking differently about these issues,” says Lenore Anderson, a co-author of Proposition 47. “The main message for policymakers is some of the old ways of thinking around prison-first policies and using the criminal justice system to deal with something like drug addiction is something the public doesn’t think is wise anymore.”

The ACLU plans to repeat the success of Prop. 47 in other states. 

“Hopefully we will be able to find states where we can go further and say, ‘Let’s decriminalize the possession of drugs and let’s talk about what we can do to address drug use and abuse,’” Holcomb said.

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