While the hoop-la of the US Presenditial election continues it might have been missed that a number of US states either decriminalised or legalised a number of previously illegal drugs including marijuana, ecstasy and cocaine.
Often elections allow for other measures to be included in ballots and a way for people in a state to have their say on topics that collectively need to be voted on before being legislated into law. While Federal law supersedes state laws in the USA, a number of states have moved ahead over the last few years.
The biggest in the last decade was probably Colorado who legalised weed back in 2012 before it became law in 2014. Since then, they’ve collected over $1b in taxes that are legislated to go towards hospitals, schools and roads.
The latest round of states taking a different direction towards the use of drugs has been New Jersey, Montana, South Dakota and Arizona. They’ve all decided to legalise recreational marijuana for adult use, while Mississippi and South Dakota have legalising medical marijuana.
Oregeon have taken things a step further and become the first US state to decriminalise the possession of all drugs. Yep, that includes LSD, ecstasy, cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine meaning if you’re found with those drugs on you, you won’t face jail time and instead a $100 fine or redirected to rehabilitation services.
Here in Australia its estimated punters spent over $9b on illegal drugs annually and that amount is growing. How are State and Federal governments doing in combating this?
Marijuana has been legalised in the ACT and has for a year now while pill testing services are also aimed at being launched. In NSW hefty fines are now being handed out for possession of small amounts of ecstasy which is a positive compared to clogging up the courts. Other states remain hard-lined against the possession or use of drugs.
Overall, it does seem like the ‘law and order’ stance towards drugs seems to be softening globally and instead, a health approach via support and rehabilitation!