Marijuana Policy Experimentation Goes Nationwide | Smoke Signals | Bend | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon
The Source Weekly’s reporting is made possible by the power of your support. Be a part of it!
Pin It

Marijuana Policy Experimentation Goes Nationwide 

America's federal system of government allows states to function as "laboratories of democracy." Under the U.S. Constitution, states have the authority to "try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country," as esteemed U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Bandeis so eloquently said in 1932. That is exactly what is happening with cannabis law and policy around the U.S. right now.

At one end of the spectrum are the states doubling down on prohibition. In Arizona, for example, possession of any amount of cannabis is a felony resulting in an automatic sentence of four months to two years in jail. And in Florida, possession of less than one ounce of cannabis can result in a 15-year prison sentence.

There is no evidence to indicate that such draconian laws have reduced cannabis use in these states, but the Republican Party's domination of these states' legislatures means that there is no prospect of any "experimentation" on cannabis policy in the foreseeable future.

Even in states with lighter penalties for cannabis possession, police still arrest cannabis users en masse. These police practices disproportionately affect minority and economically disadvantaged populations. In New York City, for example, African-Americans and Hispanics are far more likely to be arrested for cannabis than Whites or Asians, despite similar use rates. Social justice activists are starting to bring facts like these to the attention of lawmakers, and many states with Democratic majorities are considering experimenting with new approaches to cannabis.

Some states have already taken the step of "decriminalization" or partial decriminalization, which eliminates or reduces criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of cannabis. Oregon was at the forefront of decriminalization. In 1973, the Oregon legislature made possession of one ounce or less a civil fine rather than a criminal punishment. Since 2012, states as diverse as Nebraska, Ohio, and North Carolina have followed suit.

About The Author

Pin It


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Newsletter Signup

Get Central Oregon daily news
directly in your inbox

Get Social

Latest in Smoke Signals

  • Hemp Symposium Ahead at OSU

    • Jan 20, 2021
    An upcoming symposium will focus on the outlook of the hemp industry, and will bring together government officials, leaders in the industry and other corporate entities aiming to find new, sustainable uses for hemp. More »
  • 2020, the Year Cannabis Became Essential

    • Dec 30, 2020
    From curbside service to online ordering to consuming while remote working, Oregonians got elevated in new ways More »
  • Get Your Holiday Edible Game On

    • Dec 16, 2020
    Make some as gifts, or just stash them in the fridge for your own quarantine holiday More »
  • More »

More by Steve Holmes

Want to advertise with us?

For info on print and digital advertising, >> Click Here

© 2021 LAY IT OUT INC | 704 NW GEORGIA AVE, BEND, OREGON 97703  |   Privacy Policy

Website powered by Foundation