The true winner of the 2020 Election: Drugs
November 20, 2020
No matter who you voted for in the 2020 election, and regardless of your reaction to the results, one thing is for certain; Americans are embracing Marijuana. The 2020 election was a decisive victory for the long-time maligned plant, with five new states embracing reform. South Dakota, Montana, Mississippi, Arizona, and New Jersey all passed legislation regarding marijuana legalization, all of which, with the exception of Mississippi, legalized recreational use for adults over the age of 21. Mississippi only legalized medical use.
The American war on drugs began in earnest at the inception of the 1970’s, a campaign from which we are just now starting to feel the effects. As the U.S. prison population sky-rockets, and racial relations are stressed beyond belief it is hard to see how the criminalization of a plant got us to where we are now. Some states however are taking an even more proactive stance on drugs in general, with Oregon decriminalizing the possession of a small amount of any and all narcotics. Although the popular media has had fun at Oregon’s expense, this is the direction that we need to be going with law enforcement, and drug policy specifically.
The 2020 election has clearly shown that people support weed being legal, but the bigger question here should not be what the public considers “acceptable,” but rather should be a question of personal autonomy and freedom. Why is it acceptable to put someone in jail for harming themselves, but the billionaires of our society directly profit from their addiction and never see a day behind bars? We as a society not only need to re-evaluate our stance on pot and drugs in general, but we need to re-evaluate how we see crime.
The United States has been in the grip of an opioid epidemic for almost 30 years, with the first wave of overdose deaths climbing in the 90’s in response to the over prescription of the popular painkiller Oxycontin. The fires of the epidemic have continued to rage into the 2000’s with users switching to heroin in the 2010’s and ultimately fentanyl laced products as regulators clamped down on the domestic opioid pill supply.
The United States war on drugs focuses on the supply side of the economic chain and seeks to eliminate the supply of drugs, rather than focus on the rapidly expanding demand for drugs of all kinds in the U.S. If we are ever going to see any progress when it comes to rates of physical drug dependence and overdose deaths, we need to do a 180 degree pivot and focus on the demand side of the model. If we can take the Oregon approach, and seek to get users off the street, and off drugs, instead of jailing low level dealers who may be users themselves, then and only then will we finally see some change.
The 2020 presidential election is the first sign of the tide of public opinion changing drastically. As recent as the late 90’s Bill Clinton employed the language of “Law and Order” when it came to what he perceived as a wave of dangerous drugs gripping the United States. Thankfully it looks as if we are finally turning the corner on this travesty as a nation, with 2021 serving as a new page in the book of history not yet spoiled by the sins of our forefathers. If you take nothing away from the 2020 election but this, remember that we as Americans are finally ready to stop punishing each other for our own shortcomings, and we are ready to embrace a new future where less people will ultimately have their freedoms stripped away.