More people may be taking a trip to Massachusetts soon, and more people in Massachusetts may be taking a trip soon too. That’s because, like many other places in the US, lawmakers and elected representatives in Massachusetts are looking at decriminalizing the possession of all drugs in certain amounts. In fact, the state has introduced bills that would do just that. Recently, Oregon became the first state in America to take this bold approach. It shows that maybe, just maybe, elected officials are tired of the reputation of having the largest incarcerated population of any nation in the world. Prisons are filling up beyond capacity, and lawmakers are looking to address this problem. These new Massachusetts bills will hopefully be able to provide a solution or at least help pave the way.
Personally, I think it’s great. Would you have issues with people being high in public? Most likely, but those who show a lack of responsibility to handle their drugs could find themselves receiving treatment instead of criminal charges as a consequence. Not everyone who consumes recreational drugs does so regularly, and many people who choose to partake in recreational drugs do so privately in their homes. It’s time to grow up, America. If you can’t handle drugs, don’t do them. Don’t say you can and then freak out in public or at home. This is why encouraging proper education on responsible consumption and harm reduction is so important.
Humans have utilized various drugs for thousands of years for medicinal or religious purposes, and even as a simple vice to deal with life in general. There isn’t anything criminal about this. It’s only over the last hundred or so that humans saw fit to begin telling other humans what compounds and plants they could and couldn’t consume. Massachusetts isn’t just looking at decriminalizing all drugs; they are looking at possibly creating a future market where various currently controlled substances would be available to the public. Could you imagine going to a recreational drug dispensary to buy some cocaine, MDMA, shrooms, or LSD? Being able to purchase substances in a legally controlled manner would significantly reduce the dangers of consuming contaminated or synthetic products.
A Breakdown of the Massachusetts Decriminalization Bills
Massachusetts has bills presented that would decriminalize all drugs as well as study psychedelics, and regulating their sales. Representatives Mike Connolly and Liz Miranda introduced bill HD 3439. If successfully passed, HD 3439 would decriminalize all drugs in the state of Massachusetts. Instead of criminal penalties for the possession of a controlled substance, citizens would be faced with a civil fine of up to $50 or the option of a screening. A similar version of HD 3439 was introduced by Senator Julian Cyr. SD 2248 is considered to be identical to HD 3439.
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Both of the measures have the title “An Act Relative to Harm Reduction and Racial Justice“. Connolly also introduced a separate house bill that is successful could set up regulated sales of certain drugs in the state of Massachusetts. HD 3829 has a primary goal of establishing an interagency task force. This task force would “study the public health and social justice implications of legalizing the possession, consumption, transportation, and distribution of naturally cultivated endogenic plants and fungi”. HD 3829 also has recommendations suggesting expungement, diversion, parole, pardons, and equity measures for individuals who have criminal records for distribution or possession of controlled substances.
Was Cannabis Legalization the Gateway to a Change in Drug Policy and Treatment?
It almost seems that cannabis legalization was an eye-opener for lawmakers and elected representatives in America. Other places are looking at the decriminalization and/or legalization of a number of controlled substances. Iowa saw a bill introduced recently looking to remove psilocybin from the controlled substance list. California saw state Senator Scott Weiner introduce new legislation aiming to legalize the sharing and possession of controlled substances such as DMT, MDMA, LSD, Mescaline, Ketamine, psilocybin mushrooms, and more.
Legislators in Virginia, Hawaii, Washington state, Connecticut, Florida, and Kansas are also considering drug policy reform bills regarding psychedelics. To even see Kansas in this one is a shocker. It’s impressive to see Kansas even looking into positive reform laws regarding psychedelics when they have individuals such as Dr. Eric Voth standing such firm ground against the use of medical cannabis in the state. Eric recently testified, saying, “cannabis has no place in medicine“. Thankfully, these people are starting to not be taken seriously anymore as research continues to prove them wrong. Their continued support of failed draconian ways of the past is showing the public who they really are. By standing against progress with bold unfounded claims, you are acting in the same manner as early and current prohibitionists.
The Future Looks Positive for Drug Reform
America needs a positive change in our approach to drug policy. The old way isn’t working, and if we want to see success in our future, we need to fix the mistakes of our past. People shouldn’t be judged by the substances they choose to partake in. It is not society’s place to tell people what they should and shouldn’t consume. However, there is a time and place, and if one can’t handle their drugs or refuses to practice responsible consumption, it’d be wise to avoid doing them in the first place. This is why mandatory drug treatment would be a better consequence than incarceration because it attempts to correct the main issue at hand.
If the United States were to adopt an approach to drugs like that of Uruguay, we could possibly move forward at a more positive pace and focus on tackling issues of crime, homelessness, and planetary water deprivation. With so many states looking to follow the path laid by Oregon in regard to drug decriminalization, America could be in for exciting times during the roaring ’20s of the new millennium.
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