The 2020 general election in the United States has everyone glued to their televisions and smartphones to watch the slow-motion car crash. Social media is ablaze with news headlines giving personal commentary over the affair. But elections for electoral representatives weren’t the only thing in play this election cycle. Some states provided ballot measures for their citizens. And citizens were given the opportunity to take some of the freedoms back their governments took from the people.
There were around 38 different statewide initiatives underway during the presidential election. A few of them set to create cannabis reform in some states. Five statewide initiatives put a marijuana measure on its ballot. Four of them approved the referendum to legalize it for recreational purposes. Shortly, we’ll be adding Arizona, Montana, New Jersey, and South Dakota to the other 11 states that have legalized recreational marijuana. And Mississippi passed its Initiative 65 ballot measure to give state residents access to medical marijuana. So America is one step closer to pushing the federal government into legalizing it federally. It’s only a matter of time.
However, when discussing drug reform, the state of Oregon surprised the nation with two of the most progressive initiatives the country ever witnessed before. The first, Measure 110, decriminalized the possession of small amounts of all drugs. That frees up its police force to focus on more relevant issues. Plus, Oregon’s citizens also passed Measure 109, which legalized psychedelic mushrooms on the state level.
Oregon Leads the Way for Drug Reform in the United States
Back in 1996, California had passed Proposition 215. It was the first state to vote and pass an initiative to legalize medical marijuana. Every media outlet in the nation was broadcasting the news. Not only did it begin the discussion of actual drug reform in the US, but it also sparked a heated debate about each state’s rights in our country. And that debate is still in effect to this day.
It would be another 16 years until another state outmaneuvered California’s medical marijuana movement. But in 2012, both Colorado and Washington state passed ballot initiatives to legalize recreational cannabis for adults aged 21 and over. At the time, the legislation was unprecedented. The argument surpassed the topic about the medical applications of marijuana and jumped directly into the philosophical ruminations about personal liberty and an individual’s right to choose.
Now, with the two measures that Oregon passed in the general election, the state of Oregon has taken the lead for drug reform in our country. It wishes to replicate the results of Portugal’s drug decriminalization experiment. After that country decriminalized drugs, addiction and overdoses fell within the next decade. So it makes an exceptional case for states in the US that are managing a growing populace of addicts. The opioid crisis has left its battle scars upon the United States.
Not every state is moving in the right direction for our civilization. A few governments are reversing course and heading backward. At the moment, six states have banned kratom.
The Kratom Consumer Protection Act of Oregon
Now, those initiatives that the citizens of Oregon passed are both meaningful because the state also had its version of the Kratom Consumer Protection Act (KCPA) introduced in the lower house of the Oregon Legislative Assembly. And if the citizens of the state just managed to pass drug reform legislation in their government, then getting the state’s Congress to pass a bill regarding kratom should be a walk in the park. Besides, it’s already in motion.
At the beginning of the year, the Oregon House of Representatives voted and unanimously passed House Bill 4013. A bipartisan group of 59 representatives came together on February 18th, 2020. And not one single member from either party voted against it. They all supported passing the bill up the ladder to the Senate. Now, the Oregon State Senate must give the legislation its approval. Should the senators pass the bill, then it becomes law.
The bill seeks to establish regulations for kratom products in the state, including labeling requirements for the kratom businesses, and create a minimum age for purchase and consumption. If passed, all kratom companies would need to register their products with the State Department of Agriculture in Oregon. The bill also establishes penalties for the unlawful preparation, sale, or distribution of unregistered kratom products with the state. A vendor who sells to a minor would violate the term as well. Each of those criminal conducts would result in a maximum of 30 days of imprisonment plus a possible $1,250 fine.
The KCPA Could Use a Nudge from the American Kratom Association
Kratom consumers and advocates have one non-profit organization in their corner. It’s the American Kratom Association (AKA). The advocacy group works on behalf of consumers to create a link between themselves and elected representatives. And it performs that feat through hiring lobbyists to work on our behalf. They also arrange meetings to discuss and educate our elected representatives about the kratom plant and its benefits. With the FDA providing representatives with disinformation that doesn’t follow the science surrounding the plant, combatting the fake news from the federal agency can be a time-consuming job in itself. But the AKA continues to march forward and present its case to different state leaders, regardless of all the obstacles.
But Oregon appears to be a diamond in the rough. It’s the perfect state for the AKA to focus on at the moment. While the representatives haven’t passed the KCPA at this time, the two measures that the populace just voted on and passed could have possibly paved an open road for the kratom legislation. The state is likely to pass the bill without the AKA’s presence. After all, it’s one of the most progressive governments in our country. But nobody should ever let an opportunity go to waste. And that goes for kratom advocates, too. So watching the people of Oregon decriminalize drugs and legalize magic mushrooms should be the sign they’ve been waiting on. Every kratom consumer in the state should harness the moment by contacting elected officials and have your voice heard.
The Times They Are A’Changin
Back in the 1960s, the counterculture phenomenon in the United States was hitting its stride. Psychedelics were giving the hippie and hipster movements a deeper understanding of nature and civilization, pushing them to address the deep divide inherent within our system. And those movements demanded we embrace the environment rather than treating it as a disposable asset. The “Love, Peace, and Happiness” mantra was on the lips of a lot of youth. The civil rights movements were also underway. So the era was ripe for political and cultural change. However, the upheaval in the establishment over racial disparities caused a backlash from elected representatives inside the United States government.
When the populace elected Richard Nixon as President, everything came screeching to a halt. He helped pass legislation that ushered in the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) and began the War on Drugs in America. The Nixon administration also formed the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF). Then he put together the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) shortly after.
In later years, our government would use the DEA to perform governmental assaults on legal marijuana dispensaries in the few states that passed marijuana reform laws. Later, the Obama administration slowly began calling off the raids. And now, more of the local governments have constructed roads that lead to cannabis legalization at the federal level.
Now, we’re witnessing states legalize psychedelics and decriminalizing all drugs within their borders. Hopefully, soon, we’ll see Congress pass a federal KCPA for kratom consumers, too.