Despite its turbulent history and not-so-stellar international reputation, the U.S. still holds a large degree of influence over cultural trends in the world. With issues such as gay marriage and cannabis, elected officials have often been slow to budge. However, things start to be shifting in favour of marijuana legalisation, and Joe Biden’s recent victory in the 2020 elections over Donald Trump could mean good things for fans of the plant.
Joe Biden has a history of not supporting legalisation or reform, however, in recent years, he has relaxed his stance, stating that he now supports decriminalisation. But what happens if Biden moves for nation-wide decriminalisation?
Possession will no longer be a criminal offence. The result of this would be fewer incarcerations for carrying. Putting people in prison for a non-violent crime such as weed possession makes it more difficult for these people to find jobs once they are out, which then forces them to turn to illegal activities in order to make a living. Clearly, decriminalisation is far better for issues like crime rates and unemployment, and hopefully, the States will soon catch up to what South Africa has already implemented.
Which states have legalised?
Decriminalising possession is not always enough. For a state or nation to benefit the most, they have to legalise. Legalising allows the state to regulate the production and sale of cannabis products, making the process safer all round. On top of this, the state can impose taxation, and use the extra money to fund education and anti-addiction initiatives – as has been the case with Colorado.
States that have voted to legalise include Arizona, Montana, New Jersey, and South Dakota. Arizona: In addition to legalising recreational use, Arizona has moved to put a 16% tax excise tax. Montana: Montana also legalised, and set a possession limit of about 8g. New Jersey: As well as possessing, New Jersians will be able to cultivate, process and sell. South Dakota: Purchase, possession, and distribution will all be allowed in South Dakota. Additionally, the state will have to prepare and implement a medical marijuana scheme by April of next year.
Mississippi. Whilst Mississippians were not able to vote for complete recreational legalisation, they were offered the choice to legalise medicinal marijuana. This is capped at around 70g, and will be available for those suffering from certain medical conditions that have been preselected.
Many ballots in this election did not offer the option for legalisation, but it is clear that the public is largely in favour. Hopefully, these states will be a sign of times to come, where the use of marijuana is demystified, and can no longer be used to paint people as criminals. With the U.S. changing its outlook, other countries like South Africa may soon do the same.