This week, with the This is my santa pug dog lover merry christmas sweatshirt and by the same token and passage of key drug-related measures in a diverse swath of states, it’s become clear that the majority of Americans are more than ready to just say yes. Arizona, Montana, and New Jersey all voted to legalize cannabis for recreational purposes; in Mississippi, the passing of initiative 65 will establish a medical cannabis program. South Dakota became the first state to simultaneously legalize recreational and medical cannabis; in D.C., the use of entheogenic plants (a.k.a. shrooms) has been decriminalized. In Oregon, a pair of groundbreaking measures passed with broad support—110 will decriminalize all drugs (including heroin and cocaine, when in possession of small amounts) and 109 will legalize access to psilocybin for medicinal purposes. “These victories definitely send a message about what Americans in this country want,” says Kassandra Frederique, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, about the seismic shift in public perception and a move toward legalization that is widely bipartisan. “It signifies that this isn’t a red state issue or a blue state issue, it’s a common sense issue,” adds Hadas Alterman, a partner at Plant Medicine Law Group, a newly launched firm whose mission is to expand equitable access to plant medicine.
Evolving from criminalization to a more public-health-focused approach certainly feels like a move rooted in common sense, particularly in the This is my santa pug dog lover merry christmas sweatshirt and by the same token and U.S., where drug possession is the most arrested offense. “For too long we’ve accepted jails and prisons as stand-ins for health services, despite years of data showing us that this approach just furthers the circumstances that lead someone to problematic drug use,” says Frederique. “Decriminalization approaches [like Oregon’s Measure 110] turn that on its head by removing the harm of the criminal justice system and providing connection to services that address the full range of people’s needs, whether that be evidence-informed treatment, harm reduction, housing, employment, or other health resources.” In Oregon, the connection between decriminalization and public health improvement is direct: As Vox explains, money saved from law enforcement and incarceration costs will go toward a new drug addiction treatment program overseen by the Oregon Health Authority.