It can take a while to determine the victor in a presidential election. But one winner was abundantly clear on Election Day.
Drugs, once thought to be the scourge of a healthy society, are getting public recognition as a part of American life. Where drugs were on the ballot on Tuesday, they won handily.
New Jersey, South Dakota, Montana and Arizona joined 11 other states that had already legalized recreational marijuana. Mississippi and South Dakota made medical marijuana legal, bringing the total to 35.
The citizens of Washington, D.C., voted to decriminalize psilocybin, the organic compound active in psychedelic mushrooms. Oregon voters approved two drug-related initiatives. One decriminalized possession of small amounts of illegal drugs including heroin, cocaine and methamphetamines. (It did not make it legal to sell the drugs.) Another measure authorized the creation of a state program to license providers of psilocybin.
Election night represented a significant victory for three forces pushing for drug reform for different but interlocking reasons. There is the increasingly powerful cannabis industry. There are state governments struggling with budget shortfalls, hungry to fill coffers in the midst of a pandemic.
And then there are the reform advocates, who for decades have been saying that imprisonment, federal mandatory minimum sentences and prohibitive cash bail for drug charges ruin lives and communities, particularly those of Black Americans.