The American electorate voted massively in favor of relaxing laws around the use of drugs like recreational cannabis, medical marijuana, and weed for both recreational and medicinal uses.
“Whenever drug reforms were on the ballot, they won quite handily,” says Leo Beletsky, an epidemiologist and the faculty director of Northeastern University’s Health in Justice Lab. “That shows a hunger for major shifts and reforms across party lines.” It turns out that voters are more progressive on this issue than their representatives.
Oregon is setting a precedent by approving two landmark reform measures, one of which is the decriminalization of personal possession of drugs including cocaine, methamphetamine, and opioids, and “a lot of other states are going to pay attention to how this plays out,” says Beau Kilmer, director of the RAND Drug Policy Research Center. According to Andrew Seaman, a Portland, Oregon-based addiction medicine researcher, “this is a huge public health win,” because decriminalizing drugs reduces the stigma around drug use, hence encouraging people to seek treatment more openly and proactively.