Impact of Decriminalizing Drug Possession – AZ Prop 207
Arizona just legalized marijuana and has passed prop 207 to decriminalize drug possession. Oregon, too, has become the first state to pass measure 110 and has taken the first step towards making the healthcare system more empathetic and inclusive for addicts. Here’s everything you need to know.
The overall impact of Oregon measure 110
The entire point of introducing measure 110 is to find an alternative for the current system. Those who voted in favor of the measure said that imprisoning people in possession of drugs hasn’t been shown to work.
There’s no decline in the addiction rates. Instead, the number of deaths and overdose reports have only been growing. So, it’s time to look at our options.
Oregon measure 110 allows the state to offer addiction recovery treatment without raising taxes as it aims to repurpose the money obtained by reducing the incarceration rates, saving $44,021 behind every inmate annually.
The state’s confidence in this new system comes from its historical victory. Six years ago, Oregon legalized the use of marijuana. Since then, they haven’t experienced even the slightest spike in youth usage or in crimes related to drugs.
Additionally, the measure is also set to quadruple funding for non-Medicaid treatment. This includes offering more than $100 million in new funding to recovery services, making healthcare more inclusive for addicts.
This measure will also give rise to addiction recovery centers that will be designed in such a way that they will assess the needs of substance abuse patients and addicts, allowing the state to work on the existing treatment.
But wait! There’s more.
State economists are expecting the 17% tax on retail cannabis to work its magic. The revenue for 2019-21 is projected at $291 million. And the good news is that the money will be used for improving the facilities offered to the public.
The primary reason for their optimism has, again, got something to do with Oregon’s history.
In 2017-19, the state collected $184 million in cannabis tax revenue after legalization. So, the projection of $291 million would mean having a 58% increase in the state’s revenue, which will ultimately benefit the residents.
How Arizona Proposition 207 will change things for everyone
With 59% of positive votes, Prop 207 has allowed the legalization of recreational cannabis for adult use. This also means that the government can now begin taxing it.
Now, people above the age of 21 years can purchase up to 1 oz. of marijuana or have up to 6 plants at home. And apparently, people are loving it.
The decision is a popular one because there are 1,800,000 votes and counting that favor the proposition – a figure that has surpassed the total votes for both Joe Biden and Donald Trump.
It’s a historic win for the public because it promises two things – the release of those convicted for the possession of marijuana and the promotion of a more inclusive public healthcare.
Let’s look at the promise of criminal justice reform. Possession of drugs attracts court intervention and criminal proceedings, leaving a permanent mark on your record.
If drug possession is decriminalized, it can allow people to have a second chance at a better life without the lifelong criminal tag. It will provide people with an opportunity to rebuild their careers without struggling to pursue professions in legal institutions.
Aside from that, it will also make addiction support accessible because drug possession won’t be seen as a punishable offense anymore.
Prop 207 also makes numerical sense. Arizona has 1.2 million cannabis users. So, the state is expecting to generate $341 million in revenue in the first year. The state tax is also said to rise from 4.5% to 8% – a great feat amid COVID-19.
As expected, the money will be deposited into the Smart & Safe Arizona Fund and will be used to offer public safety, community education, better healthcare, and improve the addiction recovery treatment process.
And if that’s not enough, by 2023, prop 207 is also projected to create 385,000 to 475,000 job opportunities in the cannabis industry. So, former addicts will always have a future after their recovery is complete.
Finally, prop 207 will also ensure the promotion of social equity because it’s designed to offer licenses particularly to social equity applicants, which is expected to improve patient and consumer access in Arizona.
So, if you belong to the minority groups, you have a chance at establishing your own dispensary once you embrace sobriety.
What does history tell us about decriminalizing drugs?
Decriminalization of drugs simply means reducing drug prohibition laws. Basically, drug decriminalization refers to supporting the use of fines or other forms of penalties, instead of imprisonment.
They also don’t get an entry in their permanent records, which allows them to pursue career opportunities that they’re interested in.
Most importantly, both Oregon measure 110 and Arizona prop 207 will help reduce the stigma around addiction – something that has possibly caused more harm than the drugs.
Stigmatization of addiction and substance abuse has given rise to a knowledge gap and misinformation among the general population. So, it has become quite difficult to regulate information on drugs and addiction. Removing the stigma is sure to make professional help more accessible.
There are various case studies that have proven the positive impacts of decriminalization drugs with Portugal being one of the most prominent examples of that.
When drugs were first decriminalized in Portugal in 2001, those caught in of them were sent to rehabs or recovery centers. They were offered therapy and the courts avoided giving prison sentences.
As a result, the first five years saw some major changes. The use of illegal drugs among teenagers had gradually declined and the cases of deaths due to heroin and other hard drugs went down by more than 50%.
Another notable change that happened was the rate of HIV infections among substance abusers saw a drop and twice as many people began seeking addiction recovery treatment.
Suffice to say, regulation of drugs can allow the government to make constructive changes in society’s DNA. It can help control and provide the masses with accurate information about substances and mental health disorders while allowing people to find help as soon as possible.
How AARC is doing our part in light of Prop 207
Teenage drug abuse is one of the biggest problems facing America today. Just like the government is taking initiatives to make healthcare inclusive and accessible, AARC is on a mission to offer affordable addiction recovery treatment to everyone involved with us.
With the help of our donors, we’ve enabled thousands of adolescents and teenagers to find mental, financial, and medical support, so they can have a healthier future.