The Changing Landscape on Drugs

By Dylan Case

For forty-nine years Americans have lived through the long-lasting “War on Drugs” that former President Richard Nixon established in June of 1971. However, it seems that this war may come to an end in the near future as we’ve seen a progressive push to decriminalize drugs following the large scale push to legalize recreational marijuana use that has swept the entire nation in the last decade.

After the election Oregon passed a ballot to decriminalize hard drugs such as methamphetamines, crack cocaine, heroin, and various other substances due to the area being stricken with immense poverty and drug addiction. The New York Times has indicated that those with possession of these substances under a gram will no longer face incarceration, but instead will have to pay a $100 fine or will be given the option to undergo treatment. Those who possess these substances in larger quantities will have more severe consequences and may still face incarceration due to drugs not being legalized on the federal level, but it doesn’t stop there. Oregon has extended their progressive hands as a state even further by being the very first to pass the legality of psilocybin mushrooms on a recreational level for citizens aged 21 and over.

It’s no surprise that marijuana is fully legalized in Oregon as well, but other states seem to be following in their footsteps. The New York Times has also indicated that Arizona, Montana, South Dakota, New Jersey, and the nation’s capital have joined 11 other states in legalizing recreational marijuana. South Dakota also passed another measure legalizing the use of medicinal marijuana which has made it the very first state to legalize medicinal and recreational use at the same time. Mississippi also passed an initiative to legalize medicinal marijuana which 74 percent of voters were in favor of.

 Across the United States only six states have not seen the light of legality or decriminalization for marijuana in any form. Some may consider this surprising because it seems that states who have decided to legalize marijuana medicinally and recreationally have gained a lot of revenue. According to ABC News when Colorado became one of the first states to legalize it recreationally, they were able to generate $1 billion in sales alone. Currently, Colorado has two ways of taxing marijuana, which is an excise tax and a retail sales tax. The excise tax goes into motion when the distributors begin to sell or transfer to a retail store or manufacturer which costs 15 percent. After this happens the retail sales tax comes into play and takes another 15 percent when anything recreational is sold to someone. Colorado has raked in millions of dollars from its marijuana tax rate since its legalization, and only increases with every year. In 2019 they reached $302 million in their tax rate, opposed to when the double taxation law was passed in 2014 and they only made $67.5 million.

 In the end, will the United States see full legality of marijuana and other substances? Well, a most recent Gallup poll says that 60 percent of Americans favor the legalization of marijuana so it’s very possible that we may see a federal shift someday. When it comes to other substances like hard drugs, the answer is most likely no simply because it does cost a lot of people their lives and health. Either way, it’ll be interesting to see which path our beloved country will follow.

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