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The Cannabis Path to Legalization and its Implications for Psychedelics
Federal law has not yet caught up with public sentiment in either the years-old developing cannabis industry or the newer psychedelics space. States have taken the lead and written their own laws. Many have altered state laws to legalize medical and adult-use cannabis, and some have legalized or decriminalized specific psychedelics or entheogens. However, most entheogens and cannabis continue to be stuck in as Schedule I narcotics of the CSA. This means that the U.S. has high barriers when it comes to researching these potentially helpful substances.
The cannabis legalization movement has been in the works for decades, and indications are that federal cannabis prohibition will end soon. Comparatively, the current push to legalize psychedelics is in its early stages. What can the cannabis path to legalization tell us about psychedelics?
It took decades for some states to legalize medical and recreational cannabis. And there still hasn’t been a bill passed at the federal level. At this point, states are taking legalization into their own hands. This may be a desire to get a jump on potential growth in the cannabis industry or even a decision to lower crime statistics. Either way, cannabis is legal in 18 states and decriminalized in 13. Today, the cannabis industry in the U.S. is over $61 billion.
Relatively, the legalization of cannabis is in its infancy. The great strides that were made to make this possible are surely being studied by manufacturers and future proprietors of other recreational drugs.
Psychedelics have emerged as the front runner for the next drug to be accepted and pushed toward legalization. Oregon set precedence last year by decriminalizing personal amounts of ‘hard’ drugs. More and more, people are beginning to believe in harm reduction and dispel notions of mind-altering substances being inherently evil. Psychedelic legalization and nationwide decriminalization are still in the early stages, but it’s beneficial to examine the path cannabis took. After all, it wasn’t an easy road.
Medical Benefits Are Important
Before cannabis was legalized in any state, the “wonders” of what cannabis can do for your health was the main talking point for lobbyists. Cataracts, glaucoma, seizures, anxiety disorders, the list goes on and on. It’s not easy to demonize a plant that makes fighting cancer more manageable for patients.
By detailing the extensive list of medical benefits, the concept of cannabis was transformed for the majority of people. Instead of picturing a lazy couch potato, they envisioned a human being in pain and finding relief. Psychedelics would do well to follow the social conditioning cannabis displayed.
Psychedelics have their own medicinal properties. They can significantly reduce feelings of depression, anxiety, and stress. What’s even more amazing is the research that displays that this reduction can last for an extended period of time - years, in some cases. Veterans suffering from PTSD and anyone battling mental health issues can benefit dramatically from these substances. The research into the medical use of Psychedelics is still at its beginning, but the number of companies being formed for Psychedelics leads experts to believe better funding is coming.
The Timeline is The Key
Legalized cannabis supporters didn’t give up just because the road was long with no end in sight. As a result, California took the first giant step forward in 1996 when it became the first state to legalize cannabis for medical use. Though a decent number of states followed their lead, it wasn’t until 2012 that Colorado and Washington’s voters made recreational use legal.
These strides for change were good signs, but it still took years for the better part of the nation to agree on one thing - people should not be locked up for possessing personal amounts of cannabis. There are shows and series revolving around cannabis, from cooking with it to different ways of consumption. Incarcerating citizens for a drug that has an entire television market began to make less sense.
Psychedelics are gaining popularity and support at a much more rapid speed than we saw in the early days of the cannabis movement. Barely a year after Oregon decriminalized psilocybin, a report from The Hill stated that a survey showed that a third of Americans believe ‘magic mushrooms’ have medicinal benefits. The report indicated that 53% of registered voters ages 18-29 believe in the medical capabilities of psychedelic substances, while a large portion of voters over age 30 disagreed.
Understand The Journey Is Not Linear
The path to cannabis legalization was carved out by advocates who stood resolute in their beliefs. At times, it seemed as though if we did see complete legalization, then it would be decades away. Psychedelics are traveling on the road paved by cannabis advocates, but that doesn’t mean the journey will be the exact same or easy. Advocates for the legalization of psychedelics should study what worked and did not work for the cannabis movement while keeping in mind the differences between the two.
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