Drug decriminalization brings positive results! That shouldn’t surprise Christians.

“I have the freedom to do anything, but not everything is helpful. I have the freedom to do anything, but I won’t be controlled by anything.” 1 Corinthians 6:12 CEB

Today, I stumbled across an interesting example of the positive effects of allowing more freedom in something that is perceived as a danger to society. 

In 2001, Portugal decriminalized all drugs for possessing small personal quantities.  If you are caught, you end up with about the equivalent of a parking ticket.  They included some counseling opportunities for those who are caught to help be sure that they understand the risks of drug use and know how to be responsible about it.  That seems a lot more loving than tossing personal drug users in jail for up to a year, as was the previous way users were dealt with.

I have actually written to the local Member of Parliament about the idea of decriminalization in order to reduce prison overcrowding.  I didn’t even realize the money that would be saved in the judicial system!  I had no idea that a wider decriminalization was actually being put into practice already, I think I was largely drawing my inspiration for such a suggestion from the Bible.  It’s great to see it actually being put into practice to an extent!

Christianity could stand to learn something from this in regards to being more open to understanding things that are perceived as “dangerous” to the faith’s society.  From what I understand, we’re not the ones who are supposed to be judging.  We should be learning about these things together with those involved with these “dangers” to help widen all of our understandings.  

Correct me if I’m wrong, but Jesus did tend to spend a significant time socializing with “sinners”, didn’t he?

A couple of references:

Drug Decriminalization in Portugal: Lessons for Creating Fair and Successful Drug Policies

http://www.cato.org/publications/white-paper/drug-decriminalization-portugal-lessons-creating-fair-successful-drug-policies

‘This Is Working’: Portugal, 12 Years after Decriminalizing Drugs (2 pages)

http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/evaluating-drug-decriminalization-in-portugal-12-years-later-a-891060.html

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4 Responses to Drug decriminalization brings positive results! That shouldn’t surprise Christians.

  1. chialphagirl says:

    The united states has the highest incarceration rate in the world. Most of that is because of drugs. So I am all for the decriminalization of drugs in small amounts. Some people argue that drug use increases the rate of other crimes but that isn’t really a provable claim. How about we just wait for the drug users to actually commit those other crimes and then deal with that?

    As for Christianity, can you give an example of something perceived to be dangerous that should be “decriminalized” in the faith community?

  2. jasonjshaw says:

    The way I see the drug situation is that those who use drugs rely on information from those who sell the drugs, and those who sell the drugs – organized crime – only care about getting people hooked on these substances.

    Drugs can be used responsibly, but drug users need to be encouraged to be responsible about it and not made to feel like a criminal so they aren’t hesitant about seeking help if they need it. As with any substance, there are almost certainly positive uses as there are negative uses. It is good to approach these things with caution as there are the obvious dangers of addiction and overdose, but to write them off completely without looking at the other side of the coin is irresponsible.

    As for “decriminalization” in the faith community – I actually drew inspiration from your blog on that one, in the way you told about how you came to understand evolution as a Christian, and the challenges you faced in sharing that within your church community .

    Science is an understanding of the world, and I think most scientists couldn’t care less about how their discoveries affect religion. They are simply trying to understand the world around us and the history of it based on plausible evidence. Having recently attended modern Christian church services, I found it interesting how the approach to church has evolved from what I remember of it as a child. And learning about all of the branches of Christianity, and translations of the Bible. Christianity is an evolving life form in itself! It blows my mind how some Christians can completely write off the existence of evolution. Not to mention the breeding of different dogs together to develop a dog with different traits and the same thing with flowers – are those not obvious examples of how evolution occurs? What about all the different races of people on Earth? What about a child gaining traits from both sides of their family into a package all their own? Mind blowing.

    Now that’s not to say that everything is a product strictly of evolution. How human intelligence came to be is still uncertain. There absolutely could be a conscious outside creative force acting upon us, and that’s where religious belief comes in.

    The bottom line is that there is truth in everything. Regardless of belief, we should be making our best effort to connect the dots together rather than sitting in our own corner doodling life away.

    There is actually a video I came across in my deeper studies of who Jesus is that paints him as someone who did look to bring together people of different faiths. It also fills in the blanks of Jesus’ life that the Bible doesn’t clearly fill in. I will make a post and share it, I actually find it a rather inspiring look at who Jesus might have been beyond the pages of the Bible.

  3. chialphagirl says:

    There is a verse in Thessalonians that says “examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good.” This has become a personal motto for me on topics that seem to be “criminalized” by the church. I find, as I examine, that there is much truth outside of the narrow views I had once held.

  4. jasonjshaw says:

    There is a lot of truth to be found in areas that are out of your comfort zone. I feel that I gained a lot of insight with my studies of Jesus, even though my beliefs are much more secular in nature.

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