The decriminalization of drugs refers to a spectrum of laws and law enforcement strategies that are designed to reduce penalties associated with the criminalization of drug-related behaviors. The extent of criminalization varies according to drug type; for many drugs, including alcohol and most opioids, distribution, and use are permitted in some circumstances and sanctioned in others, whereas the manufacture and use of other widely used drugs, such as cannabis and cocaine, are criminalized in almost all contexts. The criteria by which drugs are matched with sanctions have been the subject of controversy, and current criminalization policies have been widely criticized as being arbitrary and counterproductive. Alternatives to criminalization generally fall into the categories of decriminalization or legalization. Advocates of legalization typically envision a system akin ...

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