What does the victory this week of a ballot measure making arrests of people 21 years old and older for personal use or possession of psilocybin mushrooms the lowest priority for Denver police portend for the future of the drug war in America?
Jacob Sullum, who will be speaking May 18 at a Ron Paul Institute conference titled “Winning the War on the War on Drugs,” provides a detailed and thoughtful answer to this question in a Thursday Reason article.
Sullum’s article begins with the following:
In 2007 Denver voters approved a ballot initiative that made arrests for marijuana possession the city’s “lowest law enforcement priority.” The margin of victory was 14 percentage points. On Tuesday, Denver voters approved a similar ballot initiative for psilocybin mushrooms. It won by a single percentage point, according to the “final unofficial results.”
The direct practical consequences of that surprising outcome, which became clear yesterday evening after several news outlets (including Reason) erroneously reported that voters had rejected the measure, will be modest. But approval of the Denver Psilocybin Mushroom Decriminalization Initiative is symbolically and politically important, since this is the first time a U.S. jurisdiction has decided that psilocybin use should not be treated as a crime.
That development suggests marijuana legalization, which Colorado voters approved in 2012 and most Americans now support, was only the beginning of a movement that could gradually replace the war on drugs with a legal regime that is more peaceful, humane, and tolerant. At the same time, the contrast between the psilocybin initiative’s razor-thin victory and the decisive 2007 vote telling Denver police to stop arresting cannabis consumers suggests that further progress will be neither easy nor straightforward.
Continue reading Sullum’s article here.
Find out more about and obtain tickets for the May 18 Ron Paul Institute conference focused on the war on drugs here. The Houston, Texas conference will feature presentations by speakers including Sullum, National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws Deputy Director Paul Armentano, retired New York City Police Department narcotics detective and police officer John J. Baeza, and Ron Paul Institute Chairman Ron Paul.
Reprinted with permission from the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.