Actually, they do. There is a lot of would-be drug users that are deterred based on the implications of punishment.
You may look at those offenders and see certain “extreme” punishments. The truth is that the population of would-be offenders is quite large. There are a lot of people that would experiment with narcotics and paraphernalia that simply don’t, due to the legal system in place.
I’m not an addict. I would know.
Furthermore, usually first-time offenders have a more lenient punishment. It’s the repeat offenders that start seeing those minimum sentencing and the high degree is less related to the crime as opposed to a stack of crimes (e.g., selling to a 12 y/o, having a certain amount on the person). The answer is simple. If you don’t want to do the crime, don’t do the time.
People also don’t want to take into account the severity of the crime and instead want to liken it to race, age, or gender. That is irresponsible thinking. The truth is, if you don’t do it, you won’t be sentenced. Stop displacing responsibility. You are accountable and responsible for your own actions.
But I agree, a more sensible punishment system should be implemented. The courts don’t know how to address the problem, so they increase the time served. If it’s an ineffective punishment it’s not going to fix the problem; however the legal system isn’t necessarily in place to fix the problem — it’s there to shield degenerates from society; it’s up to the individual to fix the issue.