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Research cites false picture re U.S. drug policies, apprehensions

We don’t understate the potential consequences of a drug possession conviction in Missouri. The outcome – even in select cases that might reasonably be deemed minor – can be serious, even draconian. Some individuals convicted on marijuana possession charges are incarcerated, slapped with heavy fines, lose professional licenses/jobs, driving privileges and more.

We suspect that some readers of our blog posts at the tenured St. Louis criminal defense firm of Rosenblum Schwartz & Fry might see quick irony in certain pot-linked convictions. Notably, harsh outcomes can attach even for nonviolent first-time offenders and concerning a recognized lower-end illegal (and progressively decriminalized) drug.

That irony is underscored in the findings of study principals who recently released the results of voluminous research into U.S. drug policies and linked strategies. The findings illuminated in an article authored by the nonprofit organization The Conversation fundamentally spotlight “many harmful collateral consequences” visited upon legions of convicted American drug offenders.

The guiding premise of American drug laws, stresses The Conversation, is that resources largely target criminal kingpins in enforcement probes.

That assertion is discredited by relevant findings, say researchers. “By and large,” they stress, “state and local police agencies are arresting small fish, not big ones.”

The research culled from more than one million cases strongly underscores that. It indicates that about four of every 10 arrests featuring so-called “hard drugs” feature “trace amounts – a quarter of a gram or less.”

And a clear majority of drug arrests reportedly don’t implicate drugs like heroin, methamphetamine or cocaine at all. Rather, they involve “tiny amounts” of marijuana.

In short, state The Conversation research authors, there is material variance between perceived and actual American drug policy. They believe the country will be better served by a discernible shift from low-level offender targeting to a real assault on top-end illegal drug manufacturers and traffickers.

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