West Lafayette, IN: The elimination of criminal penalties for drug possession offenses is associated with lower overall substance use among young people, according to a study published online this month in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.
An investigator from Purdue University in Indiana assessed the association between drug laws and drug consumption patterns in a representative survey of 15,191 adolescents aged 15-24 years from various European nations.
The study reports, "[R]emoving criminal penalties [for controlled substances] does not necessitate a higher number of users compared to countries with penalties, and the former actually have comparatively lower usage. In fact, higher possession offenses are associated with greater drug use."
It concludes, "At the very least, lack of criminal penalties is not associated with comparatively higher adolescent substance use and countries should consider removing such penalties to users. Such a strategy provides benefits of harm reduction, while simultaneously not associated with increases in use and additionally producing reduced government expenditure on enforcement."
For more information, please contact Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Full text of the study, "National-level drug policy and young people’s illicit drug use: A multilevel analysis of the European Union," appears in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.