The Decriminalization Debate Full citing included.

Essay by lenoreoUniversity, Bachelor'sA-, March 2004

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While most laws are in place to maintain social order, some are put on place based on the social beliefs and interests of those in power and not that of the general public. Using this approach to create criminal law is dangerous and creates a host of related social issues that are sometimes worse than then the problem the law is supposed to be solving. One issue that has been debated since its inception is the criminalization of cannabis. While historically both Canada and America followed a similar plan in regards to the criminalization, they have broken apart, Canada considering decriminalization and America pushing harder for jail terms to those found guilty of possession. Both options have their own set of problems, consequences, and solutions.

Although these two countries have different approaches towards these laws, both countries could better address the needs of the public and offenders through abolitionism of the current penal systems in both countries.

Abolitionism centers on the idea that social activities cannot and should not be regulated effectively through criminal law (De Hann, 1997). Considering that close to half of Americans polled admit to having tried marijuana at least once in their lives (Stein, 2002: p.37) and in a recent survey, 47% of Canadians supported full legalization of the drug (Beltrame, 2001), it becomes apparent that current laws do not effectively regulate the behaviour or opinion of the public. Abolitionism also supports the idea that with the reduction of the criminal justice system, programs designed to deal with and reduce the problem behaviour, using drugs in this case, should be put into place. Instead of curing an individual of their drug problem, placing individuals in prison for offences such as possession of marijuana gives them a criminal record that will follow them around and interfere with...