The legalisation of psychedelics, such as magic mushrooms, seems to be a hot topic in various places around the world. With Oregon legalizing the use of psilocybin for medical treatment and therapeutic purposes, it's not going to be long before more US states follow suit.
Recently, lawmakers in Vermont have proposed several drug reforms which are set to change the course of psychedelics in the state.
Vermont's current approach to charging individuals for simple drug possession with a misdemeanour or low-level felony would be replaced under the proposed legislation. Possession of "a personal use supply of drugs" would instead be considered a civil offence, resulting in a $50 fine. However, individuals could avoid paying this penalty by participating in a substance use disorder screening.
On top of this, the new legislation would seal the criminal history records of prior convictions for possession of less than the newly established personal use amounts. These personal use amounts are set to be recommended by 2025 and they are determined by the Drugs Use Standards Advisory Board
According to the new bill, the proposed legislation includes a provision to establish a pilot programme that permits individuals to test their drugs. Providing access to drug-checking services without the risk of arrest or prosecution would "reduce the risk of accidental death and hospitalizations," as well as enable real-time tracking of drug trends.
This is a step forward as the negative effects of criminalising drug use have been felt heavily by individuals and communities, with people of colour bearing a disproportionate burden. Studies have indicated that black individuals were 14 times more likely than their white counterparts to be defendants in a felony drug case in Vermont.
Groups like Decriminalize Vermont, are large advocates and in favour of this new bill as it would help combat substance abuse and improve measures to prevent overdose amongst communities.In addition to this, a survey by advocates found that 84% of Vermont voters supported replacing criminal penalties for simple drug possession with civil fines and allocating resources for treatment and harm reduction.
That being said, there are still many obstacles to overcome in order to make this decision final. Vermont governor, Phil Scott, is heavily opposed against loosening restrictions on psychedelics and other drugs making it very difficult for progress to happen. Nonetheless, individuals and specialised groups in Vermont will continue to fight for the advancement of psilocybin and decriminalisation laws in the state.
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