Leading US Civil Rights Organizations Call for Decriminalization of Personal Drugs

Article by Ciara McCarthy, The Guardian

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Two leading civil rights organizations are calling for the complete decriminalization of personal drug use in the US in a comprehensive new report released on Wednesday.

The report, published by the American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights Watch, concluded that last year someone was arrested every 25 seconds on drug use or possession charges.

The research catalogues the enforcement of laws that criminalize personal drug use, for which police make more arrests than any other crime. The organizations’ stand is one of the most forceful yet in the ongoing conversation about the country’s sprawling criminal justice system and the lasting effect that low-level drug offenses can have on Americans.

“This is first time both organizations have come together and made such a strong call for [decriminalization],” said Tess Borden, the report’s author.

The report, titled Every 25 Seconds, after the frequency of drug arrests, looks specifically at personal drug use, and not trafficking or other drug crimes. Last year, more than 1.25 million arrests were made by local law enforcement for drug use or possession alone, and about half of those were for marijuana use or possession, according to the report.

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