Legal marijuana measures passed in 5 states, Oregon decriminalizes all drugs
While a conclusive result for the presidential election is likely still days away at least, we do have at least some takeaways from Tuesday's election, and one of them significantly expands the number of states with legalized marijuana. New Jersey, Arizona, and Montana residents all voted on ballot measures in favor of legalization, Mississippi voted in favor of medical marijuana, and South Dakota legalized medical and recreational weed. Washington DC, which already had legalized weed, voted to decriminalize psychedelic substances, shrooms included.
Oregon went even further, voting to decriminalize personal possession of small amounts of any drug, as well as legalized psilocybin mushrooms for use in therapy. They now have the most liberal drug laws in the country, as Forbes points out. For more on what exactly this means for Oregon, Vox reports:
Oregonians have made their state the first in the United States to decriminalize use of all drugs, including cocaine and heroin, after voting to approve Measure 110, according to the New York Times and the Associated Press.
The approval of the measure, one of several drug-related initiatives on the ballot November 3, doesn't mean that the state has legalized the drugs.
Instead, Oregon will remove criminal penalties — including prison time — for possessing small amounts of currently illegal drugs, and will give those caught with drugs the option of either paying a $100 fine or getting a "completed health assessment" at an addiction recovery center. The sale of drugs will still be illegal, so don't expect stores or pharmacies selling cocaine or heroin to pop up (at least legally).
As Vox further points out, this election represented a major win against the war on drugs: "in every state where marijuana legalization or another drug policy reform was on the ballot, it won."
For New Jersey, this is a belated legislative victory for Governor Phil Murphy, who had vowed to legalize marijuana in his first 100 days in office, but faced a bumpy road. "We did it, New Jersey!," he tweeted. "Public Question #1 to legalize adult-use marijuana passed overwhelmingly tonight, a huge step forward for racial and social justice and our economy. Thank you to @NJCAN2020 and all the advocates for standing on the right side of history."
NJ.com reports that a recent The Brach Eichler Cannabis Poll showed over 60% of likely voters in the state strongly or somewhat supporting the measure.
The state legislature and Cannabis Regulatory Commission still need to put tax rules and other guidelines into place, Buzzfeed reports, before sales can begin.
Meanwhile, it remains to be seen what NJ's legalization move will mean for neighboring states, including NY, that have stalled in their own efforts towards legal weed.