From Cannabis to Psychedelics, Drug War Reformers Are on a Roll from Coast to Coast

Aided by winning most cannabis ballot initiative campaigns since 1996, the growing understanding that the War on Drugs has been an utter failure, and the hard work of dedicated activists across the country, drug war reformers have serious momentum from coast to coast. It’s easy to see a snowballing pattern of how victories for freedom and common sense chipped away at the Drug War, starting with medicinal cannabis to full legalization to medicinal psilocybin and drug decriminalization wins statewide in Oregon last year. Within the past week, the Texas Legislature has approved legislation to study psychedelics potential to treat military veterans’ PTSD, the California Senate has sent a psychedelics decriminalization bill to the General Assembly, and Connecticut legislators seem poised to pass a cannabis legalization bill that includes social equity provisions such as the automatic expungement of possession convictions. Gizmodo reported on the momentum in a column titled, “It’s a Good Week for Drugs”:

“(California) SB 519, which now moves to the House, acknowledges that the war on drugs hasn’t worked and that responsible regulation can help reduce harm, primarily to people who take tainted substances. ‘The War on Drugs has entailed overwhelming financial and societal costs, and the policy behind it does not reflect a modern understanding of substance use nor does it accurately reflect the potential therapeutic benefits or harms of various substances,’ the introduction to the bill reads. It goes on to say that people continue to use black market drugs, which have become less safe, particularly when laced with drugs like fentanyl, which caused a spike in overdoses during the pandemic. The state hopes that distributing drug analysis tools and scales can help reduce harm.

“It also notes that certain psychedelics have proven medicinal benefits, which is partly the reason that Oregon and Denver legalized psilocybin, the hallucinogen derived from mushrooms. Studies have shown that taking psilocybinMDMA, and ketamine, paired with psychotherapy, can help relieve major depressive disorder and PTSD. In the latter case, studies frequently state that pharmaceuticals aren’t enough.

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“It is also a good week for therapeutic drugs in Texas, where two bills await Governor Abbot’s signature. One would expand access to medical weed, and another would mandate research on the effectiveness of MDMA, ketamine, and psilocybin in treating PTSD.”

As Gizmodo also notes, these most recent political victories also coincided with economic giant Amazon announcing that it now supports the the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act of 2021 (MORE Act), and will now stop testing most of its employees for cannabis. Not to mention the fact that Virginia and New York recently passed landmark cannabis legalization bills. The Drug War has gone on for so long and its failures have been so obvious to so many advocates, that it can be easy to get burned out. It’s a good idea to take a breath and realize how far that we’ve come and to acknowledge that hard work and dedication are paying off as the truth prevails step by step, state by state.

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