From Marijuana To Mushrooms, Voters Want Drug Laws Eased
A Washington, D.C., resident has an operation growing psilocybin mushrooms. With the legalization of marijuana, advocates in several states, including Oregon, have pushed for the legalization of other drugs such as “magic mushrooms.” Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post via Getty Images hide caption
A Washington, D.C., resident has an operation growing psilocybin mushrooms. With the legalization of marijuana, advocates in several states, including Oregon, have pushed for the legalization of other drugs such as “magic mushrooms.”
Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post via Getty Images
In states across the country, voters sent a clear message they wanted restrictions on recreational drug use eased. On Tuesday, residents of Arizona, Montana, New Jersey and South Dakota voted to join the ranks of 11 other states that have done so.
In 2012, Colorado and Washington made the leap to legalize marijuana for recreational use. Colorado has collected $1.23 billion in marijuana taxes and fees since 2014, including more than $302 million last year alone. Washington eclipsed Colorado that same year, collecting $395.5 million.
Oregon, which legalized marijuana for recreational use in 2014, went a step further Tuesday and voted to decriminalize illicit drugs. Measure 110 makes the possession of small quantities of cocaine, heroin, methamphetamines and other drugs a civil violation subject to a $100 fine, but no jail time. However, the measure does not go so far as to decriminalize the manufacture or sale of drugs.
Oregon also passed Measure 109, the legalization of psilocybin often referred to as magic mushrooms. Unlike marijuana, this measure only approves the use of psychedelics at licensed facilities for mental health purposes. Studies have shown that psilocybin could be used to treat major depressive disorders, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Washington, D.C., did not vote on the the legalization of psilocybin, but they did approve the decriminalization of psychedelic mushrooms. The Entheogenic Plant and Fungus Policy Act of 2020 was passed on Nov. 3 with 76.3% approval at the time of reporting. The measure directs law enforcement to make investigation and arrest of adults associating with entheogenic plants and fungi the lowest priority.
Along with the legalization of marijuana, states like Montana and Arizona will allow individuals serving specific marijuana-related sentences to request resentencing or even expungement. According to the National Center for Drug Abuse, 55 million American adults currently use marijuana. As well, more than half of Americans view marijuana use as socially acceptable.
However, marijuana also accounted for 40% of all drug arrests in the United States in 2018, according to a Pew Research Center study. Marijuana, as well as psychedelics and other drugs, is still illegal under federal law. Local governments can choose to ban the sale or cultivation of marijuana.
California was the first state to legalize marijuana for medical use in 1996. More than 20 years later, South Dakota and Mississippi followed suit. Now, 35 states and four territories allow the use of medical marijuana.
Several states approve marijuana for recreational and medicinal use. Oregon votes to decriminalize possession of small amounts of hard drugs.
Tuesday’s Election Winners: Marijuana, Magic Mushrooms, and Other Drugs
A marijuana-themed U.S. flag flies as activists hold a rally at the U.S. Capitol to call on Congress pass cannabis reform legislation on Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2019. Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images
While possession and use of marijuana are still prohibited under federal law, 11 states and Washington, D.C. had fully legalized the recreational use of the drug heading into Tuesday night’s election. After the votes were counted, five more states were added to the legalization ledger, with New Jersey, Arizona, South Dakota, Montana and Mississippi passing ballot measures to allow medical or recreational (or both) marijuana.
Some states went far beyond marijuana. Oregon passed initiatives to legalize psilocybin mushrooms and to decriminalize possession of harder drugs for personal recreational purposes. Washington D.C. passed measures to decriminalize shrooms.
Oregon became the first state to decriminalize ownership of small amounts of cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and other drugs. The new law will reclassify possession of these drugs as a minor violation equivalent to a traffic ticket instead of a felony punishable by jail time. The law also calls for funding drug addiction treatment from marijuana sales taxes.
Oregon voters also legalized psilocybin, also known as magic mushrooms, for people age 21 and older, to treat depression, anxiety and other conditions.
Washington D.C. passed a similar measure, decriminalizing magic mushrooms.
New Jersey has already legalized medical use of marijuana. On Tuesday night, voters passed a ballot measure to amend the state constitution to fully legalize marijuana for people aged 21 or older.
The state legislature will have to draft and pass more detailed legislation that will create implementation rules for the new policy.
A majority of voters said yes to Proposition 207, which will allow people of age 21 and older to possess, consume or transfer up to one ounce of cannabis. A similar initiative failed in 2016 by a narrow margin.
The state’s Department of Health Services will be responsible for adopting the new rules and creating a regulatory system for cannabis cultivation and sale.
South Dakota had two measures on the ballot: one to legalize medical cannabis (Measure 26) and the other to legalize recreational use (Amendment A).
Voters passed both measures on Tuesday night, making South Dakota the first state to legalize medical and recreational use of weed at the same time.
Mississippi had two ballot measures to legalize medical marijuana use. The first initiative sought to allow physicians to recommend cannabis to patients with conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and post-traumatic stress disorder. The other sought to limit cannabis use to a people who have terminal medical conditions.
Voters passed the first measure on Election Day. The state’s unique ballot structure asked voters to either vote for one of the measures or vote against both.
Montana also had two ballot measures, one to legalize recreational cannabis and the other to establish 21 as the legal age to purchase, possess and consume cannabis. Voters approved both measures, despite the state’s Commerce Department’s opposition to the initiatives, citing concerns about marijuana’s impact on the labor force.
Voters in four states—New Jersey, Arizona, South Dakota and Mississippi—passed marijuana legalization measures on Election Day. Montana could be next.