Americans try more drugs than people in any other country. We have five percent of the world`s population, but we use 75 percent of the world`s prescription drugs (often without a prescription). That being said, our war on drugs has also created a very harsh environment for drug users, and many end up in jail. Things seem to be changing, with marijuana legalized in several states, but other countries are already leading drug policy reform. Although Thailand has a strict drug policy, the cabinet approved a bill in May 2018 that allows for more research into marijuana`s effects on humans. Therefore, the Government Pharmaceutical Organization (GPO) will soon begin clinical trials of marijuana as a preparatory step in the production of drugs from this plant. These medical studies are considered exciting new milestones in Thailand`s history, as the production, storage, and use of marijuana has been completely banned in Thailand since 1979.  Costa Rica has decriminalized drugs for personal use. The production or sale of drugs remains a criminal offence. In the 1980s and 1990s, the Portuguese faced a high rate of drug use. The country has experienced a crisis with one in ten people using heroin at the height of the problem.
To change the situation, illegal substances were decriminalised in Portugal in 2001. This made the country the first country in the world to do so on a broad front. Those caught in possession of drugs were warned and fined or told to appear before a local board. This would connect the user with people such as doctors, lawyers, and social workers who would help them find addiction treatment and harm reduction services. In August 2009, Argentina`s Supreme Court ruled in a landmark ruling that it was unconstitutional to prosecute citizens for drug use for personal use – “adults should be free to make life choices without state intervention.”  The decision concerned the second paragraph of Article 14 of the National Drug Control Act (Law No. 23.737), which punishes possession of drugs for personal use with prison sentences ranging from one month to two years (although education or treatment measures may be alternative penalties). The unconstitutionality of the section concerns cases of possession of drugs for personal use that do not concern others.   Drug legalization: The issue is full of controversy and endless arguments. On the one hand, those who oppose the legalization of dangerous drugs could potentially lead to more people accessing them and developing addictions and overdoses, which could obviously become a serious problem for governments and communities.
On the other hand, illicit drug trafficking now leads to so much violence and problematic behaviors around the world, and its criminalization actively prevents users from seeking the health assistance they need to stop, leading to preventable deaths, to the point where this risk can outweigh the negative possibilities. Since the start of the war on drugs under President Richard Nixon, the federal budget for counter-narcotics has grown from $100 million in 1970 to $15.1 billion in 2010, with a total estimated cost of nearly $1 trillion over 40 years. During the same period, an estimated 37 million non-violent drug-related offenders were imprisoned. $121 billion was spent to arrest these criminals and $450 billion to lock them up.  In April 2009, the Mexican Congress passed amendments to the General Health Law that decriminalized possession of illicit drugs for immediate and personal use, allowing a person to possess up to 5 grams of marijuana or 500 mg of cocaine. The only restriction is that people in possession of drugs must not be within 300 metres of schools, police stations or correctional facilities. Opium, heroin, LSD and other synthetic drugs have also been decriminalized, it is not considered a crime as long as the dose does not exceed the limit set by the General Health Law.  Many question this, as cocaine is synthesized as much as heroin, both of which are made as plant extracts.
The law sets very low quantity thresholds and strictly defines the personal dosage. For those caught above the legally permitted threshold, this can result in lengthy prison sentences as they are considered petty traffickers, even if there is no other evidence that the amount was intended for sale.  While some countries (Canada, Ireland, South Africa) have considered legalizing marijuana, Uruguay appears to be the only country where it is truly legal to produce and consume cannabis, although even there it is a highly regulated process involving user registration. In early 2022, the Province of British Columbia submitted its own request for exemption, which is closely modelled on the Vancouver model. In April of this year, Edmonton City Council also tabled a motion to exempt federal drug laws to decriminalize “simple personal possession” of illegal drugs and voted 11-2 in favour.   In 2020, Oregon decriminalized possession of all drugs in Measure 110.  On July 31, 2013, the Uruguayan House of Representatives approved by 50 votes to 46 a bill to legalize the production, distribution, sale, and consumption of marijuana. The bill was then passed by the Senate, where the left-wing majority coalition, the Broad Front, had a comfortable majority. The bill was approved by the Senate on December 10, 2013 by a vote of 16 to 13.  The bill was submitted to President José Mujica, also of the Broad Front Coalition, who has supported legalization since June 2012. This vote refers to the legalization of marijuana by the United States in 2012.
John Walsh, drug policy expert at the Washington Office for Latin America, said: “The timing is right for Uruguay. Because of last year`s votes in Colorado and Washington state for legalization, the U.S. government is unable to beat Uruguay or others that may follow.  As the EMCDDA has noted, in recent decades there has been a movement across Europe towards “an approach that distinguishes between the drug trafficker, who is considered criminal, and the drug user, who is more likely to be seen as a sick person in need of treatment” (EMCDDA 2008, 22).