Why This November Could Spell The End of The War On Drugs
In just a matter of weeks, the American public will be going to the polls to vote on a number of issues, many of which focus around ending the prohibition of cannabis. Ever since public opinion swayed in favor of cannabis use and against the laws preventing it, the War on Drugs is on its way out.
This momentum is being put into overdrive this November, as more voter initiatives to end cannabis prohibition are set to appear on the ballot papers than ever before in US history. Seven states, seventeen municipalities and one US territory are all heading to the polls to potentially end the US led War on Drugs - spearheaded by cannabis.
Here is what is going on:
Let’s start with some of the major reforms set to take place. Firstly, the state of Oregon will be voting on Measure 91, which if passed will see the use of marijuana legalized outright, much in the same way it is for Colorado and Washington. The measure would legalize the possession of small amounts of cannabis for adults over the age of 21, as well as set up the framework for a state system of production and regulation.
Alaska is quick to follow suit, with Measure 2, another initiative that would see marijuana legalized on a state-wide basis for those who are over the age of 21. As things currently stand, there is already a lot in place in Alaska to protect the freedoms of those who grow for personal use within their own home.
The District of Columbia is set to vote on Initiative 71, which would once again, see the cultivation and possession of small amounts of cannabis decriminalized. The difference here is that District law prevents any mention of legalizing and regulating the sale of marijuana – although the District Council is currently looking into overturning this. It is hoped that passing this initiative would help remove the disparity in marijuana related crime, where some 91% of all marijuana related arrests are made within the poorer end of the black community.
In California, residents will be voting whether to make drug possession a much less serious offense, and remove it from the US’s notorious 3-strike system.
Last but not least, Florida will be voting on whether to set up a medical marijuana intuitive. If it passes, Florida will become the first Southern state to do so, and become the 23rd state to have legal marijuana, tipping the balance of states in favor of medical marijuana nationwide.
And That’s Not All!
Although the above are some of the major, large scale votes going on, there are many smaller ones about to take place as well – all of which will hugely impact the lives of those involved. Cities across Maine and Michigan will be voting to decriminalize possession for adults, and the U.S. Territory of Guam will be voting to adopt a medical marijuana program.
It will be a huge month for ending US prohibition, and the War on Drugs as a whole – and it will send a clear message, that the majority of the US is now in favour of marijuana.
How Does This Affect Us?
You may ask, „How does this affect us in Europe?“, and you would be right to ask this. In the short term, we have to admit, probably very little - in the short term. However, the War on Drugs is mainly US led, and with the majority of the US having decriminalized marijuana, it becomes very difficult for them to continue to lead the crusade.
With the main driving force behind the war on drugs effectively crippled, many other countries will start to re-evaluate their stance on prohibition. As you may have seen in our recent article, leaders from across the world have already submitted a report to the UN calling for the decriminalisation of drugs.
Then there is the fact that the US is a leading world power, and a huge player at the UN. As decriminalization is shown to be successful in reducing crime, boosting tax revenue and creating more jobs, more and more countries will begin to consider it, and certainly evaluate if the same kind of model could be beneficial to themselves.
Ending drug prohibition in the US also spreads knowledge. We are already seeing an increase in peaceful protest, media coverage, European based research, and calls for drug policy reform right here in Europe – and it is all changing public opinion. As we all know, when public opinion changes, so does that of politicians.
Don’t expect change overnight, but the events that take place in the US are setting precedent for all to follow, let us hope things continue to change for the better.