Decriminalization of Drugs in Certain States

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Tyler Faber, Staff Writer

When people think about the election they usually think about public office, but people can actually vote on specific issues for their state and area too. On Tuesday, multiple states and areas voted to legalize certain drugs for recreational and/or medical uses. In most of those states the votes for legalization won by a large margin. 

During the 2020 election the recreational use of marijuana was voted to be legal in Arizona, South Dakota, Montana, and New Jersey. Each of the states’ decriminalization of marijuana was slightly different. The law was made in Arizona that anyone 21 or older can legally possess and use up to one ounce of marijuana and anyone who was previously arrested of a crime to do with marijuana will have their records expunged by a court. South Dakota is the only one of these states to not have already had medical marijuana legal, it was voted in on November 3rd along with the recreational use. The laws for recreational use of marijuana in South Dakota are the same as Arizona’s, except that it will not go into effect until July 1st, 2021. The laws for Montana allow anyone of age 21 or older to possess and use marijuana, there is no limit on an amount they can possess. The laws in Montana also add a 20% tax on the purchase of marijuana from licensed vendors and they give each individual county the ability to vote on whether dispensaries should be allowed in that county.

Although the New Jersey constitution has been voted to be amended for recreational marijuana, state lawmakers have yet to make a law on this. We will see a law to legalize the use of recreational marijuana being made sometime soon in New Jersey. In addition to the decriminalization of the recreational use in those four states it was also voted to decriminalize the medical use of marijuana in Mississippi. This means that someone with a disease or illness can go through a process to get a medical marijuana card from a physician and be able to use it for medical purposes. 

After people voted in the state on Tuesday, Oregon became the first state to decriminalize all drugs. This new law makes it so that instead of facing jail time and a possible felony for the possession of small amounts of drugs, you will get a penalty similar to a traffic ticket and have to pay a fine of around 100 dollars. The state is also offering addiction treatment, therapy, and other programs to people who get these minor infractions. These helpful programs will be funded by the states marijuana tax and the fines collected. The nations capital, Washington D.C., voted for the decriminalization of psychedelics (drugs that can cause hallucinations and distortion) and the vote passed. The decriminalization in D.C. makes it so that the possession, use, and distribution of psychedelics is the law enforcements least priority which will in no doubt reduce the amount of arrests.