Tuesday 3 November 2020 was the Election Day in the United States of America. The tensions of this important election threw into a shade some important decisions that were at the vote in several federal states. Important state-level votes took place on decriminalising all drugs, legalising cannabis and decriminalising psychedelics.
ALL of the key votes have passed, including:
- Oregon decriminalisation of all drugs. The measures outlined would see people found in possession of small amounts of drugs for personal use given the option of paying a $100 fine or attending a free “drug addiction treatment and recovery program”, which would be funded in part out of the state’s cannabis tax revenue fund.
- Arizona, South Dakota, Montana, New Jersey legalising cannabis. Cannabis is already legally regulated for non-medical purposes in 11 US states, although it remains illegal at a federal level.
- Mississippi, South Dakota legalising medical cannabis. Medical cannabis is already legal in 33 US states, with many medical markets now well established.
- Oregon legalising medical use of psilocybin. The measure allow Oregonians over the age of 21 to purchase and consume psilocybin at a ‘psilocybin service centre’ under the supervision and guidance of trained facilitators. It would be the first-of-its-kind in the US, and hopefully move the debate forward on psychedelic treatment worldwide.
- Washington, DC decriminalising psychedelics. While not technically fully decriminalising psychedelics, the measure would clearly drastically reduce the scope for the criminal law to intervene in personal activities. Criminal laws would nominally remain on the books, but be unlikely to be used, effectively a form of de facto decriminalisation.
These developments are part of a broader effort to scale back the war on drugs. The new measures may be the beginning of a broader push in the next few years, similar to what the US has already seen with marijuana.
The French Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (OFDT) published a memo which describes the regulatory models that have been implemented since 2014 in the American states that have legalised cannabis, highlighting their differences and similarities. It also discusses the reform processes and common features of states that have legalised cannabis for medical and recreational use.
Author of the memorandum is Ivana Obradovic, OFDT Deputy Director.
After five full years of reform in Colorado and Washington State (2014 – 2018), first outcomes can be reported – although it is not clear whether they are directly attributable to cannabis being legalised. The most significant effects relate to the quick and large-scale industrial expansion of the cannabis supply chain. However, this economic boom has also seen the emergence of three public health concerns:
- The substance is now aimed at all population profiles, from people who have never tried it to regular users and from young people to seniors. The increase in supply and its diversification have increased the incentives to use it, which is only made worse by marketing strategies emphasising cannabis’ “therapeutic virtues” or its dimension of socialisation.
- The increase in the number of emergency calls and hospitalisations following acute intoxication highlights the difficulty of effectively regulating substances put on the market (particularly in terms of the concentration of active ingredients). At the same time, cannabis-related treatment demands have declined.
- The decline in both the perceived dangerousness of cannabis and retail prices have led to it becoming more accessible and the substance being “normalised” which, according to public health stakeholders, could ultimately increase the risks and harm associated with its use (particularly among the younger generation).
To read the memo, follow this link>>>
The legalization and regulation of marijuana for adults is associated with a drastic reduction in overall arrests, increased tax revenue, and is not adversely impacting public health or safety, according to a comprehensive report issued by the Drug Policy Alliance.
Among the report’s highlights:
- Marijuana arrests are down. Arrests for marijuana in all legal marijuana states and Washington, D.C. have plummeted, saving states hundreds of millions of dollars and sparing thousands of people from being branded with lifelong criminal records.
- Youth marijuana use is stable. Youth marijuana use rates have remained stable in states that have legalized marijuana for adults age 21 and older.
- Marijuana legalization is linked to lower rates of opioid-related harm. Increased access to legal marijuana has been associated with reductions in some of the most troubling harms associated with opioids, including opioid overdose deaths and untreated opioid use disorders.
- Calls to poison control centres and visits to emergency departments for marijuana exposure remain relatively uncommon.
- Legalization has not made the roads less safe. DUI arrests are down in Colorado and Washington. The total number of arrests for driving under the influence, of alcohol and other drugs, has declined in Colorado and Washington, the first two states to regulate marijuana for adult use. There is no correlation between marijuana legalization and crash rates. The crash rates in both states are statistically similar to comparable states without legal marijuana laws.
- Marijuana tax revenues are exceeding initial estimates.
- The marijuana industry is creating jobs. Preliminary estimates suggest that the legal marijuana industry employs between 165,000 to 230,000 full and part-time workers across the country.
The full report is available online following this link>>>.
The report proposes several recommendations for the future, including the one that the tax revenues collected from marijuana sales must be reinvested in the communities most harmed by marijuana criminalization. These monies are essential to help rebuild communities most devastated by mass incarceration and the decades-long drug war by investing in programs that offer people a new start.
NGO “LEK lekalizuj, which has the mission is to launch initiatives for adoption of law on regulating medical cannabis, organised a public debate on medical cannabis on 24 December 2016 in Ruma, Serbia. The trigger for the debate was the forthcoming draft of the changes to the Law on psychoactive controlled substances.
The room was full of people who experienced different kind of progress in their health conditions claiming that it came from using medicaments based on cannabis oil.
DPNSEE representatives presented different experiences in regulating this item in countries of South East Europe.