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Drug prohibition (i.e., the banning of drugs) and criminalization (i.e., making using, selling or having drugs illegal) is costly and ineffective. It is time for these failed policies to end and to invest in the most heavily affected racialized communities. The evidence-based and ethically recommended policy proposal highlighted in this Research Viewpoint is from a group of international bioethicists, drug experts, legal scholars, criminal justice researchers, sociologists, psychologists, and other allied professionals.

They state that racial justice requires ending the “war on drugs”. This begins with decriminalizing the personal use and possession of small amounts of all drugs currently considered illicit. This would ultimately lead to full legalization and careful regulation of these drugs. Nonviolent criminal convictions and criminal records related to the use or possession of small quantities of current illicit drugs should also be expunged (i.e., completely erased), and those currently serving time should be released.

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