While many countries are relaxing their policies on drugs, the US still enforces theirs strongly, leading to us to wonder about the 11 US States with the toughest drug laws. There is no doubt that drugs can be an extremely dangerous item to consume and some of the more potent ones such as heroin, methamphetamine and cocaine can even result in death. However, it is also important to consider that laws in the US can often be too tough which can result in filling up prisons with moderate drug users as well. The US, in this case, can be compared with other countries who crack down on drugs as well, as seen in the 10 countries with the toughest drug laws in the world.
In fact, the US is the leading nation in the world when it comes to the incarceration of inmates. There are an astounding 2.5 million people in the United States who are currently serving time in jail and around half of such felons are in jail on drug-related charges.
The main drug or the most popular drug in the United States is marijuana. In fact, it is probably the most popular drug in the entire world. This is mainly due to the fact that it isn’t relatively hard to cultivate and isn’t a ‘hard’ drug, which is to say that its effects are temporary and not extreme. In fact, it is impossible to overdose on marijuana. Yet the lives of hundreds of thousands of people have been potentially ruined due to them being found with just a few grams of marijuana in their possession. In just 2013, 1.5 million people were arrested on nonviolent drug-related charges. This is why we have focused on marijuana to determine a state’s attitude towards drugs, considering its reputation as a gateway drug as well as being the most common drug in the world.
The US has tried to curb the use of drugs in the country, launching the War on Drugs. However, the initiative has failed to be very successful, and at a cost of $51 billion annually, the War on Drugs has vastly undershot its target.
While drug charges at a federal level are streamlined throughout the country, each state has different laws pertaining to drug offences. Twenty-three states in the country allow for legalized marijuana for medical purposes. On the other hand, 4 states have also approved legalizing, and more importantly taxing, the production and use of marijuana, namely Alaska, Washington, Oregon and Colorado, which was the first state to legalize marijuana.
There is ample logic and rationale behind legalizing marijuana. As mentioned earlier, it doesn’t really have any severe side effects, and those which exist are only temporary. On the other hand, its legalization can result in the industry being regulated and moderated, and people will not be afraid to confide in authorities if there are any issues. Furthermore, the industry will be taxed which in turn can lead to billions of dollars in yearly revenue for the government which can be spent on improving infrastructure, education and more.
However, while some states have legalized marijuana, others are adamant against accepting it and have a zero tolerance policy against it. In order to determine the 11 US states with the toughest drug laws, we first determined the minimum quantity of marijuana required to count as a felony in the state. This led to some interesting results, as some states make it a felony in any amount while other states don’t count it as a felony offence regardless of amount.
We also considered the minimum sentence if caught with marijuana over 4 ounces. The problem is, different states have different sentences based on various amounts of possession. In order to create streamlined criteria, we considered the sentence for over 4 ounces. We have also considered the three strikes law in the US to differentiate states which couldn’t be differentiated otherwise.
The Three Strikes Law refers to extremely harsh punishments, such as life sentences generally, for a person convicted of a serious offence, having previously been convicted twice for a serious crime as well. Different criteria have been taken into consideration when considering the Three Strikes Law, such as the duration between the crimes and the severity of the crimes as well. The law has been extremely controversial, polarizing opinion between people and even recently being deemed to be unconstitutional by the United States Supreme Court. However, the law has not been repealed yet and remains a factor in our ranking.
Using multiple criteria has allowed us to cancel out any biases which are present in any sole criteria, allowing for more accurate rankings. Starting with number 11, here are the worst states for a drug offender.