US Elections 2020:

Drug compassion for president

Photo credit: @stephaniemccabe (upslash)

The world is waking up today to the knowledge that the US presidential election is still far from over. With pundits on all sides flooding the airways with opinions, speculation, and hearsay. Once wildly improbable scenarios that were sniggered out of newsrooms have now become reality. Amidst all this chaos it’s easy to miss but there was a clear winner on Tuesday, and that was Drugs! 

Drug law reform initiatives were on ballots across several US states this year with South Dakota, Arizona, Montana, and New Jersey all seeking to legalise adult consumption of cannabis. While Mississippi and Montana were also hoping to legalise cannabis for medicinal/therapeutic consumption or so-called “Medical Marijuana” 

Every single measure passed! All the ballets for cannabis were declared within 24 hours, a good indicator of the changing attitudes towards cannabis in the US. 

The above states now join Alaska, California, Colorado, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia (DC) in granting their citizens legal access to a regulated and taxed cannabis market. 

This now means that 1 in 3 Americans have legal access to cannabis, which is over 100,000,000 people or nearly twice the British population. So regardless of whether the democrats or republicans ultimately take the presidency, it is clear that the American people want to add a little green to the red, white, and blue.

It was also a big election day in Oregon, who have already legalised adult cannabis consumption back in 2014 with the passing of Measure 91 had some rather interesting choices for its citizens. The Beaver State has long since been ahead of the trend on drug law reform, after all, it was the first state in the US to decriminalise possession of small amounts of cannabis way back in 1973 even voting down attempts in 1997 to recriminalise it. 

This time the pacific state was faced with two choices at the ballet; Measure 109 to legalise Psilocybin therapy and Measure 110 to decriminalise all currently federally scheduled drugs. Amazingly, both initiatives passed. 

Measure 109 passed by 56%. This yes vote now means that the manufacture, delivery, and administration of Psilocybin at supervised/licensed facilities is legal. It imposes a two-year development period window to create enforcement, taxation systems, an advisory board, and roll out the new system to the public. 

This is potentially life-saving and changing to millions of Americans. Psilocybin assisted therapy has been shown to help with depression that has been unresponsive to traditional therapies. It is also being trialed in the treatment of many other psychiatric conditions and ailments and addiction. 

The other bill Measure 110 passed by a health majority of 59% decriminalising all drugs in the state. This means that anyone caught in possession of small/personal amounts of any substance would be a Class E misdemeanor offense. 

A Class E violation in this case would be subject to a maximum fine of $100.00. If you cannot afford the fine or choose not to pay you would have to attend a “Health assessment” at an addiction recovery centre. The bill also reallocates millions of dollars of tax revenue from legal cannabis sales to fund recovery centres, housing, and harm reduction services in the state. 

Decriminalisation in Oregon is estimated to reduce possession convictions by 90.7% according to the Oregon Criminal Justice Commission – now just imagine what effect that would have globally if we were to end this failed, fascistic and unjust war on drug consumers.

At a time when America is suffering an Opioid epidemic the saving of additional millions of dollars by not incarcerating consumers and addicts and instead of housing and supporting them is a huge step in the right direction. Let us hope that Oregon soon becomes the rule and not the exception when devising a model for how to deal with drug consumption and addiction globally.

In an election season that has seen the main event pit two law and order candidates against each other it’s refreshing to see the people vote with compassion, rationality, and community values ahead of the traditional DARE attitude of just say no to drugs. 

I sincerely hope that regardless of a Biden or Trump victory in the US presidential race that these same values can continue to resonate with the masses. America was the architect of the War on Drugs, it seems only fitting that they be the ones to start to end it once and for all.



Simpa Carter
Simpa Carter

Simpa is a passionate drug law reform activist, mental health advocate, blogger, freelance writer, and host of The Simpa Life podcast.