The 2020 Election and the War on Drugs
The votes were almost unanimous in both Republican and Democratic parties.
“In every state where marijuana legalization or another drug policy reform was on the ballot, it won,” said German Lopez reporting for Vox.
In November 2020, Arizona, Montana, New Jersey, and South Dakota voters legalized the recreational use of marijuana. South Dakota (medical marijuana) and Mississipi legalized the medical use of marijuana as well. After the results from the 2020 election, there are now 15 states (and D.C.) in the United States where marijuana is fully legalized for both medicinal and recreational uses. It can be purchased by adults 21 years or older, and the tax revenue is collected from marijuana sales.
Here is a list of those 15 states:
- New Jersey
- South Dakota
Other than states with both recreational and medicinal, there are 20 states with legalized medicinal use of marijuana.
More than Marijuana
Other than the legalization of marijuana, there has been more voter results on other drugs. Oregon has decriminalized all drugs, including heroin, cocaine, and meth, and is the first state to do it. On top of that, the drug found in "magic mushrooms" called psilocybin has also been legalized for therapeutic uses in supervised settings only.
The decriminalization of all drugs in Oregon may sound backward to some, but this is actually a huge step towards ending the war on drugs. Now if you are caught in possession with drugs like heroin, cocaine, or meth, or any other drug, the charges won't look as much as jail time but more as a traffic ticket. This is important as this law recognizes one of the most underlying drives to being in possession of drugs: addiction.
All the taxes that come from marijuana sales in Oregon will fund rehabilitation programs for drug addicts. Rehabilitation is important because recovery is far from easy and not a linear process. There are underlying issues that cause people to abuse drugs. The therapy and structure that rehabilitation programs offer aim to uncover those issues and help heal people.
On top of new legalizations in Oregon, Washington, D.C. has decriminalized psychedelic plants.
Impacts of Legalization on Communities
The legalization of marijuana isn't new to most states but is increasingly appearing on ballots. The first state to fully legalize the use of marijuana — both for medical and recreational — was Colorado in 2012. Upon legalization, the state monitored the effects of the legalization has had on Colorado as far as economy and public health issues. Here are a few things that have changed in Colorado upon legalizaiton of marijuana, according to the Marijuana Policy Project.
- In 2015, tourism increased by 30% since 2012.
- 44.5% of marijuana sales came from out of state visitors and travelers.
- In 2013 and 2014, unemployment rates were at an all time low.
- Hundreds of millions of revenue from tax dollars were made from marijuana sales alone.
- Schools in Colorado began to benefit fom the tax collections when it came to construction.
Hopefully, the other 15 states will see as many positive economical impacts as Colorado.
The War on Drugs
Drug addiction has been an issue in the United States since the Nixon administration started the war on drugs in 1968. The terms “war on drugs” and “drug addiction” have a lot of negative connotations that often are mistaken for minority issues instead of a public health crisis.
In order to fight the war on drugs, we have to approach drug abuse in a different light. Addiction is a mental health issue that needs to be understood and treated, not shunned against and frowned upon. Untreated issues will not only impact a person's wellbeing, but will impact their families and their communities as well.
With rehabilitation programs, addicts will be able to have 24/7 medical care when recovering, which could save their life while being in a safe environment. Not only does rehabilitation provide life structure and support, there are many therapies that helps battle addiction issues. With the revenue that is gained from tax dollars on marijuana sales, treatment and rehabilitation habits will help end the drug addition issues seen in America.