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Brian J Smith Jan. 26, 2015

The United States’ war on drugs has proven to be a long, costly and ineffective battle. The result of this war has been astronomical prison populations and spending. The war against drugs has been formally crusaded by at least four of our presidents and informally by many more.

Two of the main culprits behind the massive prison populations are mandatory sentencing laws coupled with repeat offender laws. There has been a large shift in the collective opinion, with many Americans now supporting changes in our drug laws. Many regulators are listening, and making changes to how drug policies are enforced.

Decriminalization/ Legalization

After California decriminalized marijuana in 2010, a total of 17 other states have followed suit. In most of these states, decriminalization means no prison time or criminal record for first-time possession of a small amount for personal consumption. Many states conduct marijuana offenses like minor traffic violations. Several of these states have seen a large decrease in youth crime rates, overdoses, non-marijuana drug arrests and prison population.

As of today, voters in 4 states and Washington D.C, have made recreational marijuana legal. Residents of these areas who are over 21 years old can possess, transport, purchase and give away certain levels of marijuana. Proponents of legalization have cited racial disparity among enforcement, wasted resources, and minimal harm possible as reasons to legalize. Although the federal government has promised to uphold federal drug laws, many of these states already have the infrastructure in place.

Sentencing Reform

In 2013, half of the federal prison population was incarcerated for drug crimes. This has led the Justice Department to consider making changes in how drug sentencing is handled. Last November, the Justice Department was able to implement sentencing reform that could lower total time of incarceration for many drug offenders.

They also made these guidelines retroactive, giving more than 40 thousand inmates the opportunity to reduce their sentences by an average of two years. California’s Prop 47 passed, reducing the possession of hard drugs from a felony to a misdemeanor. Even largely conservative states such as Utah are getting in on sentencing reform. Last November, Utah voters approved a proposition to reclassify most drug felonies as misdemeanors.

Arrest Reform

In New York City last year, 28,000 people were arrested for marijuana and these arrests wasted about $75 million to adjudicate. This led Mayor de Blasio to finally adhere to his commitment to stop arrests for marijuana possession. Although this system is flawed, many believe it is a step in the right direction. Representatives and citizens from other states such as North Carolina and Virginia are calling for similar arrest reforms.

Until more progress is made in all of these areas, people will continue to be arrested and prosecuted for non-violent drug offenses. If you or someone you know is in need of the best drug lawyer in Las Vegas, call Brian J. Smith at (702) 380-8248 today.