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IPFS News Link • Philosophy: Decentralization

Decentralize the Drug War -- On the Way to Abolishing It


On May 17, 2019, the City of Denver decriminalized the use and possession of psilocybin mushrooms via referendum. Nevertheless, the vote was a nail-biter as the initiative was only passed by a tight margin of 50.5 percent to 49.5 percent.

One of Many

However, Denver was not alone in drug reform developments. Certain counties in Texas are now implementing laxer enforcement of drug laws.

The day before the Denver referendum, Bexar County District Attorney Joe Gonzales publicly declared his office will not arrest people who possess small amounts of hard drugs such as heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamines. It will only be a matter of time before more conservative states start legalizing, or at the very least, decriminalizing the drug.

Specifically, possession of .25 grams or less would not merit the use of law enforcement resources. Gonzalez also stated his office will cease prosecuting individuals possessing less than an ounce of marijuana.

Bexar County was not alone in Texas. Dallas County DA John Creuzot revealed in April his office will no longer prosecute first-time marijuana possession cases or any individuals found with trace amounts of hard drugs under .01 grams. Similarly, Travis County established a hands-off policy to the possession of hard drugs less than .01 grams.

Since Colorado voters made history by legalizing marijuana in 2012, 10 states and the District of Columbia have now legalized marijuana. It appears the War on Drugs is slowly on its way out of the Overton Window and the acceptability of marijuana legalization is gradually shifting towards a pro-liberty direction.

Now, it's not so outrageous to suggest marijuana legalization. As mentioned before, blood-red states like Texas are rethinking their marijuana enforcement policies. It will only be a matter of time before more conservative states start legalizing, or at the very least, decriminalizing the drug.

Reforming Drug Policy for Harder Drugs Will Be Tough

However, the next phase of ending the War on Drugs will arguably be more challenging.

Ryan McMaken pointed out that Denver voters did not show up to the polls for the psilocybin mushroom vote like previous marijuana-related initiatives. A previous Denver ballot initiative in 2007, which put cannabis as law enforcement's lowest priority, was supported by 57 percent of voters. Unlike marijuana, the number of psilocybin mushroom cases were very few as McMaken highlighted in his article:

The city's DA noted "only 11 of more than 9,000 drug cases referred for possible prosecution between 2016 and 2018 involved psilocybin."

In a similar vein, familiarity with drugs plays a substantial role in changing public opinion on the Drug War. Jacob Sullum of Reason raises a valid point about people's familiarity with drugs and how it shapes their views on potential legislation:

The main factor propelling public support for decriminalization and legalization of marijuana was rising familiarity with the drug. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 45 percent of Americans 12 or older have tried marijuana.