Saturday, February 27, 2021

US state decriminalises possession of all hard drugs

Oregon voters decided that users needed treatment rather than jail time.

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The presidential race has been the focus of attention worldwide, but voters in each US state had plenty of other decisions to make on their ballot papers.

Some of the propositions were strictly concerned with matters of state importance only but others have implications for possible future worldwide legislation as the US is so often the bellwether in business and cultural change.

On the drugs front, Arizona, Montana, New Jersey and South Dakota legalised the recreational smoking of marijuana, while Mississippi and South Dakota legalised the plant for medical use.

Those states join Washington DC and 11 other states that have already legalised adult use of cannabis, which remains illegal at the federal level.

Oregon became the first state to decriminalise possession of all hard drugs including heroin, cocaine and LSD, saying that users needed treatment rather than jail time. This will greatly reduce the state prison population and pressure other states into following suit.

In business, California voters approved the proposition that ride hailing giants like Uber and Lyft can continue to classify their drivers as independent contractors, and not employees as had been threatened.

Uber had said that it would have to quit the state if it was forced to treat drivers as employees with standardised hours of work, paid vacation and other benefits.

This decision could well pave the way for the resolution of similar tussles between traditional taxi companies and ride hailing operators in Europe and Asia.

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