This issue also highlights the work of Representative, Dr. Daniel Morhaim, who last year introduced wide-sweeping harm reduction measures for the state of Maryland. These actions include the decriminalization of all drugs, not just marijuana. My friend, Rev. Alexio Vishio, graciously shares the details of an interview with Dr. Morhaim in October.
Last year, a state assemblyman in Maryland, Dr. Daniel Morhaim, introduced legislation calling for major harm reduction measures on a state-wide level. His proposals included addiction counseling at hospital emergency rooms, safe injection sites, a treatment program using a heroin substitute for hard-core addicts, and decriminalization of possession of small amounts of all drugs, not just marijuana.
It was this last measure – the decriminalization of all drugs – that caught my attention when I first heard about it. Although this sounds like a radical step, it is not as unusual as it sounds. This has been the law in Portugal since 2001. This reform has been a success by any reasonable measure. There have been no significant increases in crime or drug use, a dramatic decrease in arrests, and a large increase in the number of individuals receiving drug treatment.
While no state in the U.S. has moved toward similiar decriminalization, 16 now treat low-level possession of any drug as a misdemeanor.
Polling results around the country in the last two years have indicated significant support for decriminalization.
I asked my friend and United Church of Christ colleague from Maryland, Rev. Alex Vishio, to interview Rep. Morhaim. He did so on October 5, and I am happy to provide his report here.
In this set of legislative proposals, we see that decriminalization of drugs is not the primary objective. Tellingly, it is brought forward as the logical consequence of sweeping measures on behalf of harm reduction. This is exactly as it should be: if we see our primary objective as helping people, why does it make sense to arrest them?
I commend Rev.Vishio’s report on his visit with Rep. Morhaim to you. It is a virtual primer on measures that increasingly will become the centerpiece of drug policy reform in states throughout our country.