Decriminalizing Drug Use & Possession

More than 1.5 million drug arrests are made every year in the U.S. – the overwhelming majority for possession only.

Decriminalization is the process through which the legislature removes criminal sanctions against an act, omission, article, or behavior which is considered a crime. Decriminalization means it would remain illegal, but the legal system would not prosecute a person for the act.

The Sherman Administration is going to decriminalize all drugs which will eliminate federal and state criminal penalties and collateral sanctions for drug use and possession. The war on drugs is a global campaign, led by the United States federal government, of drug prohibition, military aid, and military intervention, with the aim of reducing the illegal drug trade in the United States. To put it simply, it is a war on people. It is a way to oppress people and keep the prisons full for free labor.

There are many benefits to decriminalizing drug use & possession, mainly a start to ending the War on drugs! We will no longer be relying on the criminal justice system to police people who use drugs. We are ending the stigmatization and meeting people where they are at! Decriminalization policies will be accompanied by an expansion of harm reduction and treatment programs, including medication-assisted treatment (MAT).

Harm reduction is a combination of practical strategies aimed at reducing negative impacts related to drug use. Harm Reduction is also a movement for social justice based on the basic rights of people who use drugs. Programs will be created to facilitate this in all communities. By doing so we are able to change our focus to treatment and harm reduction services that provide significant benefits for public safety and health, including:

  • Reduction in arrests (prior to police abolition)
  • Reduction in the the number of people incarcerated (prior to closing prisons)
  • Increase of people entering drug treatment programs
  • Reduction of criminal justice costs, the funds will be allocated to social programs


Decriminalization of drugs does not increase drug use rates. Countries that have adopted less stringent policies or decriminalization of drug use & possession have not experienced any noteworthy increase in drug use, harm or crime in comparison. A World Health Organization study showed the U.S. had the highest lifetime drug use rates by a wide margin, even with our current anti-drug policies. This study supports that decriminalization has little or no effect on rates of use.

Safer drug consumption services (SCS) will be added to every zip code. An SCS is a designated site where people who use drugs can use pre-obtained substances under the safety and support of trained personnel. Over the last 30 years, these sites have been created in over 100 sites in over 60 cities in 11 countries around the world. SCSs can save millions of dollars per year and do not increase drug use, crime or presence of drugs into communities.

There will be standards of care and aesthetic in the facilities:

  • All personnel will receive training and held to guidelines of treatment of clients
  • All personnel will be required to attend therapy weekly
  • The spaces will be welcoming and have a comfortable aesthetic, while maintaining a sterile environment
  • These facilities will feel like a space to be safe and not like a dr. office
  • A survey will be provided to all clients after each session/use of the facility

Syringe services programs (SSPs), also known as syringe exchange programs (SEPs) will be available in the SCS. These programs will be created in each zip code and will provide access to sterile supplies and facilitate safe disposal of used supplies. Providing people access to SCSs and SSP/SEPs will include the following benefits, services and programs:

  • Education about overdose prevention and safer injection practices
  • Overdose prevention, distribution of Naloxone and education for overdose reversal
  • Reduction of injection-related infections, abscess and provide wound care
  • Safe disposal of syringes and reduction of injections that occur in public
  • Referral to substance use treatment programs, mental health, social services and other medical services
  • Screening for viral hepatitis and HIV, care and treatment
  • Vaccinations, including Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B
  • Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) screening
  • Reduction in the transmission of HIV and hepatitis C

* Please refer to Universal Healthcare Policy, as these services will be 100% covered*

Czechia, the Netherlands, Portugal and Switzerland are a few countries that have decriminalized drug use/possession for personal use and invested in programs of harm reduction. As a result, the use of injection drugs is low in these countries.


No. Studies show that SSPs provide protection to the public and first responders, by implementing safe needle disposal. This causes a reduction in the presence of syringes found in the community.

Yes. SSPs reduce health care costs, as they are helpful in preventing the spread of HIV, viral hepatitis, and other infections, including endocarditis. This is a life-threatening heart valve infection, which can be common for people who use drugs intravenously. The estimated lifetime cost of treating one person living with HIV is more than $450,000 and hospitalizations of substance-use-related infections in the U.S. cost over $700 million each year. SSPs reduce these costs and help people get connected to treatment to stop using drugs, if that is what they want.

SSPs help people overcome substance use disorders when that is the desired goal. People are more likely to enter treatment for substance use and reduce or stop use when they have access to SSPs. A study shows people who had access to an SSP were five times as likely to enter treatment as those who didn’t use the programs. People who have regular access are also nearly three times as likely to report a reduction in use or stopping injecting drugs as those who have never used an SSP. 

These programs assist in reducing deaths by overdose by training people who use drugs how to prevent, rapidly recognize, and reverse opioid overdoses. People will be provided “overdose rescue kits” and education on how to identify an overdose. This includes giving rescue breaths, and administering naloxone, which is a medication used to reverse overdose.

According to the United Nations, “Portugal’s policy has reportedly not led to an increase in drug tourism. It also appears that a number of drug-related problems have decreased.” Independent research concludes that “there is ample evidence of a successful reform.”


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