Drug Decriminalization: Election Results and Articles

November’s election results signaled that Americans are increasingly ready for alternatives to the War on Drugs, and reconsidering society’s relationship with drugs. American voters continue to demonstrate disillusionment with incarceration and criminalization, and an openness to legal and decriminalized drug use.

This November, voters given the opportunity all voted to take steps toward ending criminalization of drug users:

  • Oregon became the first U.S. state to decriminalize drug possession, regardless of drug. This makes Oregon the first place in the United States to decriminalize certain substances including MDMA and LSD
  • Every state with a cannabis reform measure on the ballot saw passage of at least one (in some there were multiple approaches)! 
  • With a huge winning margin, Washington D.C. effectively decriminalized possession of plants and fungi containing naturally occurring psychedelic compounds, making psychedelic plant arrests the lowest law enforcement priority for D.C. Metro law enforcement
  • Oregon passed a measure to regulate the supervised use of psilocybin, creating the first legal system for psilocybin use outside of research

As we make historic strides in the decades-long work to disassemble the drug war, let’s creatively amplify reliable education, peer support, and other harm reduction services, and ensure marginalized communities do not continue to suffer disproportionately under new policies. Many exciting and symbolically consequential recent psychedelic reforms around “decriminalization ” in Denver, Oakland, Santa Cruz, Ann Arbor and now D.C., do not actually prevent arrests or protect against potential knock-on effects of criminalization (e.g. potential employment, family law, or immigration consequences of substance use). These exciting reforms do play pivotal roles in helping shift American society’s conception of psychoactive substances, and create the first legal frameworks for psychedelic use outside of research settings.

Here are a few recent articles if you want to learn more about the recent progress: