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Five States Legalize Weed
While everyone else was busy watching the strangest presidential race in recent memory, I had my eye on the five states that were attempting to legalize recreational cannabis through voter initiatives. Get this: Every single one passed.
There are now 16 states in the U.S. that have legalized recreational marijuana for adults. There are now only nine states in the entire nation where marijuana remains fully illegal—allowing for neither recreational nor medical use—and two of those states have decriminalized its possession. It’s incredibly telling that our two leading parties just can’t bring themselves to affect any significant change to cannabis policy at the federal level. It’s a travesty that states have to take matters into their own hands to fulfill the will of the people.
One of the states that legalized was Arizona. That’s three of New Mexico’s neighboring states that no longer have the same restrictions that we do—if you aren’t keeping score at home.
While this news is great for the nation as a whole, it’s terrible news for New Mexico. That’s because any hopes of seeing cash flow into the state’s coffers from cannabis tourism have pretty much been dashed. New Mexico was too slow to catch the wave. I saw this coming years ago.
Any entrepreneur worth their salt will tell you that you have to seize an opportunity when it presents itself or else it might escape. Well, the New Mexico legislature has had years and years and numerous chances to get it right, but they’ve been too incompetent to do so. Now that we finally have a chance of seeing cannabis legalized in 2021, it looks like it’ll be too little too late. Our neighbor Colorado, by comparison, has enjoyed nearly a decade of making money hand over fist from their cannabis market while our leaders displayed their feathers, sat on their hands and hemmed and hawed.
Now we can forget about sharing in that wealth, because a good chunk of our potential customers have just been cut off. In fact we’ll be handing our own hard-earned cash over to them, now. That’s right: Cannabis consumers from New Mexico will now have even more reason to leave the state for weed holidays, taking their wallets with them.
They will be missed.
Drug War Losing Steam
Cannabis policy wasn’t the only thing to receive a makeover last week. Psilocybin mushrooms were decriminalized in Washington D.C. and fully legalized in Oregon for therapeutic purposes. Oregon has also decided to move forward with the radically progressive move of decriminalizing all hard drugs.
In the nation’s capital, voters approved a ballot initiative to decriminalize the use of psilocybin mushrooms along with a few other hallucinogenic plants and compounds including mescaline, dimethyltryptamine and ibogaine. The initiative instructed the Washington D.C. Attorney General and the U.S. Attorney to cease prosecution of residents for “non-commercial planting, non-commercial cultivating, purchasing, transporting, distributing, engaging in practices with and/or possessing entheogenic plants and fungi.”
In Oregon psilocybin was legalized for mental health treatment last week. Therapists will now be able to apply for a license to manufacture and distribute the drug to patients. The measure’s authors say it will help address the high number of residents suffering from mental health issues.
But the big news coming from Oregon was the state’s wild decision to decriminalize hard drugs. Under Measure 110, the Drug Addiction Treatment and Recovery Act, possession of small amounts of heroin, methamphetamine, LSD, oxycodone and other hard drugs has been decriminalized.
Under the new law, anyone caught with small amounts of illicit drugs will be given the option of paying a $100 fine or attending an “addiction recovery center.” These centers will be paid for with tax revenue from the state’s cannabis industry.
This might appear to be a radical move, but there is a historical precedent. Portugal decriminalized the use and possession of all illicit drugs in 2001. Offenders caught with personal amounts of drugs are either given a warning, a fine or ordered to appear before a commission to seek addiction treatment.
Compared to the rest of the world’s drug policies, this seemed like an impossibly naive move. But over the last 20 years, the rates of problematic drug use, HIV and hepatitis infections, overdose deaths, drug-related crime and incarcerations in Portugal have all dropped. Attitudes toward drug users have reportedly changed in the convening decades as well. Addicts are seen as victims in their own right rather than criminals, and experts believe it’s positively affecting the culture.
So hopefully Oregon’s new laws will bear sweet fruit. Let the great experiment begin!
NM Hemp Industry Smaller in 2020
The state’s hemp industry has scaled back dramatically in 2020. Experts say the cause is a stabilizing market and COVID-19.
According to the Albuquerque Journal, the New Mexico Department of Agriculture issued more than 400 hemp cultivation licenses in 2019. However, only 276 licenses were reportedly issued this year.
Agriculture Secretary Jeff Witte told reporters that a number of farmers decided to leave the market after they discovered that hemp was more difficult to grow in New Mexico than expected. Ultra Health CEO Duke Rodriguez said it was because of regulations that bar farmers from growing hemp on the same property as licensed medical cannabis. [ ]