By German Lopez / Vox
We still don’t know with certainty who will be the next president of the United States. But this year’s election results have given us a lot more clarity on one thing: American voters, even conservative ones, are ready to reel back the US’s war on drugs.
In every state where a ballot measure asked Americans to reconsider the drug war, voters sided with reformers. In Arizona, Montana, New Jersey, and South Dakota, voters legalized marijuana for recreational purposes. In Mississippi and South Dakota (separate from the full legalization measure), voters legalized medical marijuana.
In Oregon, voters decriminalized — but not legalized — all drugs, including cocaine and heroin. Also in Oregon, voters legalized the use of psilocybin, a psychedelic drug found in magic mushrooms, for supervised therapeutic uses. In Washington, DC, voters in effect decriminalized psychedelic plants, following the lead of several other cities.
With its vote, Oregon became the first state in the US in modern times to decriminalize all drugs. And marijuana is now legalized in 15 states and DC, although DC still doesn’t allow sales.
But this maybe isn’t that surprising: Over the past decade, polls have shown marijuana legalization, for example, is increasingly popular. In several polls, it gets majority support even among Republican voters, despite their greater levels of resistance to drug policy reform in general.
Together, these ballot measures’ successes amount to a significant repudiation of America’s war on drugs. US drug policy has for decades been built on the principle that drugs should be illegal, with the criminal justice system acting as a deterrent to use and addiction. Voters clearly want to move away from that.