What Are Drug Crimes?

Jacob Queen

Drug crimes come in several different varieties, and the connections that exist between drugs and crime can sometimes be very nuanced and complex. Many governments outlaw the use of certain substances, usually in order to protect societies from the behaviors these substances might instigate while simultaneously protecting users from their harmful effects. When people use these chemicals or sell them, they might be prosecuted by the government and sent to jail. There are also crimes that aren't directly related to the use of drugs, but instead have a connection to the way drugs make people behave, and those might also be called drug crimes.

Drug crimes can include using or selling drugs.
Drug crimes can include using or selling drugs.

Many governments choose to focus their anti-drug activities on drug crimes related to selling or manufacturing. In theory, this approach is meant to cut off the drug trade at its source. Some people believe this is a more practical approach because drug users usually drastically outnumber suppliers or sellers, which means it generally takes less work and manpower to handle the volume of cases generated.

Many governments choose to focus their anti-drug activities on the possession and selling of drugs.
Many governments choose to focus their anti-drug activities on the possession and selling of drugs.

In some governments, there is also a lot of focus on stopping drug crimes by going after drug users. These countries often try to deter people from using drugs by making the penalties for drug crimes extremely stiff. Often times, people are given a light sentence on their first arrests with increasing penalties for each subsequent arrest. Some people disapprove of aggressive penalties towards drug users because many of them may be addicts, and it may be extremely difficult for them to stop. People who disagree with these aggressive tactics sometimes favor things like rehabilitation instead.

Drug crimes may be tied in with crimes of violence.
Drug crimes may be tied in with crimes of violence.

In certain cases, drug use can be connected to crimes that only relate to drugs in an indirect way. For example, an addict might choose to rob someone to get money for the purpose of buying drugs. The primary crime in this example is robbery, but many people would consider it a drug crime as well, because without drugs, it probably wouldn't have happened in the first place. Other examples include infighting amongst illegal drug sellers and crimes dealers commit to avoid being caught by the police.

Some people feel the best way to deal with drug crimes is to legalize more substances, but this approach is fairly controversial. Proponents feel that drug crime enforcement is a serious drain on resources, and they worry that drug laws can create more crime than they stop by generating a black market. Others feel the consequences of legalizing drugs would be far worse than the crimes related to enforcement of drug laws.

Possession of drug paraphernalia is considered a drug crime.
Possession of drug paraphernalia is considered a drug crime.

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Discussion Comments


@umbra21 - The problem is drawing the line. It's all very well to say that drugs should be made legal, but if you make one kind legal, that turns into a slippery slope leading to making other kinds legal.

And you can ask any kind of drug crime attorney and they will tell you how much drugs can ruin a life. For all their benefits there are a thousand pitfalls and once they are legal, anyone will be free to fall blindly into those pitfalls. I think it's better to just leave drug laws the way they are.


@clintflint - The sad thing is that often these drugs can have many different beneficial effects on people, which have not been extensively studied because of the stigma or the legality of using them.

LSD, for example, has been shown to be extremely beneficial to people who are dying in a hospice and can reinvigorate their memories and give them back some pleasure in life before they pass away. But if someone was to give them some of this drug outside experimental procedures, they would be considered a criminal.

And everyone knows that marijuana can relieve pain and other symptoms for a range of illnesses, but it still isn't widely available for people to use legally either.


It just doesn't make sense that pot and some other kinds of drugs, like ecstasy, are illegal. They simply don't do any more harm than alcohol and they may even do less harm than that.

In my opinion, if they were made legal, and were regulated the way that alcohol and even cigarettes are at the moment, there would be a lot fewer drug related crimes and a lot fewer people in prison who don't really belong there.

I particularly like the way the Netherlands approach drugs, which is to view it as a public health issue, not a criminal one.

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