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Marijuana Legalization and the 2020 Election: Green Wave Sweeps the United States in Cannabis and Drug Reform

Marijuana Legalization and the 2020 Election: Green Wave Sweeps the United States in Cannabis and Drug Reform

Weed is legal in New Jersey. Amen. Maybe now the Garden State will finally live up to its nickname. Nearly nine million people call New Jersey home and with both Philly and The Big Apple just ‘cross their respective rivers, well, perhaps this new legislature will finally push New York and Pennsylvania to go legal as well. It’s one thing to hold off, but it’s another thing to leave (tax) money on the table as every man and woman of drinking age packs onto the PATH train to score some jazz cabbage in Hoboken.

Breaking Down The Legalization

Tuesday was a busy day for marijuana reform: Arizona, Montana, and South Dakota also passed ballot measures to legalize cannabis for recreational use. Hell, even Mississippi voted in favor of medical marijuana with qualified conditions.

Now 36 states allow for the distribution of medical marijuana and 15 states have legalized recreational marijuana. On Tuesday, every drug policy reform on a ballot was passed. Every state that had cannabis legalization on a ballot voted yes.

Is this the big green wave that will finally force a Federal mandate?

Matthew Schweich, deputy director at the Marijuana Policy Project and one of the leaders of the Montana and South Dakota ballot efforts thinks it will, telling CNN: “It’s going to send a really loud message to Congress that it’s time to fix this at the federal level in 2021.”

Even our nation’s capital, which has had legal recreational weed since 2015, made further efforts to curb our preposterous War on Drugs and passed Initiative 81, the Entheogenic Plant and Fungus Policy Act of 2020, to decriminalize psychedelic substances, including mushrooms, ayahuasca, and peyote.

Certainly not to be out progressive’d, Oregon is now the first U.S. state to decriminalize all drugs. Yup, all of them! The citizens of Oregon voted yes on Measure 110 — nearly 60% yes — that reclassifies drug possession offenses to lesser violations resulting in a $100 fine or a completed health assessment. This means that Oregon residents can no longer be arrested for possessing small amounts of substances such as heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, or LSD.

Oh, and magic mushrooms are now legal in Oregon. Free the fungus! But don’t go thinking it’s all Midsommar and Sergeant Pepper’s over there, not yet at least. Oregon’s Measure 109, which passed with 56% support, allows for legal access to psilocybin in mental health treatment in supervised settings. 

While this doesn’t quite mean you can choke down a handful of boomers and climb Mt. Hood on a spirit quest, it is still very much a historic victory for our burgeoning psychedelic renaissance and the increasing use cases for medicinal psilocybin. Numerous studies have proven the effectiveness of therapy treatment for depression and anxiety. Just recently, the journal JAMA Psychiatry published a study of 27 people found that a treatment featuring the hallucinogen psilocybin worked better than the usual antidepressant medications.  The treatment will only be available through an extensive, three-session therapy system located in a state-licensed clinic

And we’ll continue to see additional studies and further evidence of the benefits of psilocybin over the next two years as the Oregon Health Authority creates a state-licensed, psilocybin-assisted therapy program and determines how it would regulate the drug.

And in New Jersey, it will probably be about two years before you can walk into a retail store and buy an ounce of Christmas Cheeba. It took Massachusetts almost three years from vote to sales. In South Dakota, voter-approved cannabis rules won’t become law until July 1, 2021. Possession and use of weed in Montana will be legal starting January 1, 2021, with recreational sales scheduled to begin in January 2022. Arizona, may be the first of the newly legal states to kick off sales. The Grand Canyon State could be slinging Thai Sticks as early as March.

If you live in one of the sad, 35 states that have yet to legalize recreational marijuana, do not despair. This momentum cannot be stopped. The people have spoken: weed shall be legal. And even if you live in Key West, Florida, the farthest you could be from a legal, recreational dispensary, you’re still only 1,200 miles from the Consume Cannabis Co. in Carbondale, Illinois open 10am to 6pm every damn day of the week.