In recent US elections, drug laws have featured prominently as a key point of contention between both presidential and down-ballot candidates. The 2020 US election was no different, and many states passed sweeping changes to drug laws that will change the landscape of criminal law moving forward.
Today, we're exploring which states changed their drug laws and how the impact of those changes could spread to other states (like Virginia) in the future.
At The Law Offices of Daniel J. Miller, we help clients represent their best interests in criminal and family law cases, including drug crimes disputes. To schedule a consultation with our team, contact us online or via phone at (757) 267-4949.
What Happened to Drug Laws Across the US During the 2020 Election?
After the 2020 election results finally rolled in, newspapers across the country like the New York Times debuted headlines such as This Election, a Divided American Stands United on One Topic: All kinds of Americans have turned their back on the destructive war on drugs.
As that should indicate, drug laws across the country saw a sweeping move towards liberalization and decriminalization.
In New Jersey, South Dakota, Montana, and Arizona, voters legalized marijuana, bringing the total number of states that have voted to legalize the drug to 35. Marijuana is still only fully illegal in Kansas, Wyoming, Idaho, Tennessee, Alabama, and South Carolina. However, only 14 states have fully legalized it. Many states, Virginia included, have legalized certain products such as CBD oil for medical uses and have decriminalized marijuana, but still have restrictions on its usage.
Additionally, constituents in Washington, D.C., voted to decriminalize psilocybin. Psilocybin is the key compound in psychedelic mushrooms, and its decriminalization is something advocates of various psychedelic-related treatments, including micro-dosing therapy, have pushed for across the US for years.
Finally, in the biggest win for legalization advocates, voters in Oregan moved to decriminalize small amounts of illegal drugs, including heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamines (although selling those drugs is still prohibited within the state). Constituents also approved an initiative to create a licensing program for psilocybin providers.
What Happens Next?
The impact of decriminalizing and legalizing drugs, including "harder" drugs like heroin and methamphetamines, has yet to be seen in the US. However, the precedent for sweeping decriminalization exists. The decriminalization of marijuana has been linked to less crime, and other countries have seen positive results from legalizing more powerful drugs.
Legalizing drugs across the US indicates a shift away from the criminalization of drugs and drug-users and a shift towards rehabilitation. That could help individuals accused of drug crimes get their lives back on track more easily after receiving a conviction or being involved in a drug case.
It could also make it easier for individuals already convicted of drug crimes to request a reduction in their sentences or regain certain rights typically not afforded to felons.
Last but not least, decriminalization is seen as an effective measure of generating economic prosperity for many states. Legalizing drugs and licensing providers allows states to tax drug providers and consumers, which could provide a significant amount of revenue for states that do engage in legalization.
At The Law Offices of Daniel J. Miller, we work with clients involved in drug crimes cases and help them find the best path forward in their case.