Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) is the largest global youth-led network dedicated to ending the War on Drugs. At its heart, SSDP is a grassroots organization, led by a Board of Directors primarily elected by and from our student and youth members. We bring young people of all political and ideological orientations together to have honest conversations about drugs and drug policy. We create change by providing a platform where members collaborate, communicate, share resources with, and coach each other to generate policy change, deliver honest drug education, and promote harm reduction. Founded in 1998, SSDP is comprised of thousands of members in hundreds of communities around the globe.
As the psychedelic renaissance contributes to a swelling pool of safety and efficacy data pertaining to the potential therapeutic benefits of psychedelic medicine, many localities—particularly in North America—are revising their legal frameworks. This is happening in a number of ways: from the least rigorous incarnation which involves making the enforcement of psychedelics’ illegality the lowest law enforcement priority in a given city (such as in Washington, DC), right through to state-wide legalization of specific psychedelics (such as in Oregon). A number of U.S. cities and states have moved to loosen the consequences for personal use or small, noncommercial amounts of psychedelics. Denver, CO became the first city in May 2019, with two Californian cities—Oakland and Santa Cruz—following suit. Psilocybin and psychedelic drugs are still illegal in those jurisdictions under state law, so it is inaccurate to say it is “decriminalized.” But those local governments have taken steps to deprioritize enforcing criminal penalties there.The map below seeks to track these initiatives.
The War on Drugs. What began as a battle waged on morals has in fact created multiple public health crises, and no recent phenomenon illustrates this in more macabre detail than America’s opioid disaster. Last year alone amassed a higher death toll than the totality of American military casualties in the Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan wars combined. With this wave of mortalities came an accompanying tidal crash of parens patriae lawsuits filed by states, counties, and cities on the theory that jurisdictions are entitled to recompense for the costs of addiction ostensibly created by Big Pharma. To those attuned to the failures of the Iron Law of Prohibition, this litigation-fueled blame game functions merely as a Band-Aid over a deeply infected wound. This Article synthesizes empirical economic impact data to paint a clearer picture of the role that drug prohibition has played in the devastation of American communities, exposes parens patriae litigation as a misguided attempt at retribution rather than deterrence, and calls for the legal and political decriminalization of opiates. We reveal that America’s fear of decriminalization has at its root the “chemical hook” fallacy—a holdover from Nancy Reagan-era drug policy that has been debunked by far less wealthy countries like Switzerland and Portugal, whose economies have already benefited from discarding the War on Drugs as an irrational and expensive approach to public health. We argue that the legal and political acceptance of addiction as a public health issue—not the view that addiction is a moral failure to scourge—is the only rational, fiscally responsible option left to a country that badly needs both a prophylactic against future waves of heavy opioid casualties, and restored faith in its own criminal justice system. Keywords: drug policy, prescription drugs, illicit drugs, heroin, addiction, black market, pharmaceuticals, fentanyl, legalization, taxation, opioids, opioid crisis, war on drugs, drug decriminalization
PsychedelicLaw.ca is run by Green Economy Law Professional Corporation, a boutique Toronto-based law firm providing general and specialized legal services to parties operating in the green economy, health, and psychedelics, or dealing with housing-related matters.