What are the effects of criminalisation?
Recent overviews of the international evidence regarding the effects of criminalising drug possession for personal use have reported the following key findings:
- The level of drug use in a country is not directly related to the toughness of a country’s enforcement against drug possession, i.e. a tough enforcement regime does not reduce drug use.
- Criminalising drug use increases the health risks to which people who use drugs are exposed.
- Criminalising drug use creates social risk because society tends to see people convicted of drug offences as unproductive criminals. This stigmatisation can lead to discrimination including reduced support for health-led responses.
- Punitive drug policies have a disproportionate impact on already vulnerable communities, and increase the health risks for entire populations