Considering Proposition 122 Part Two – Pagosa Daily Post News Events & Video for Pagosa Springs Colorado

Read the first part

I shared a chart yesterday in part one, and we’re sharing it again this morning, below.

Source: HuffPost.com

I found the chart on HuffPost.com, in a 2016 article by Matt Ferner titled “Total Cost of Incarceration in the U.S. Exceeds $1 Trillion, Study Finds.” Excerpt from Mr. Ferner’s article:

New study examining the economic toll of mass incarceration in the United States finds the total cost exceeds $1 trillion [per year] ― with around half of that burden falling on the families, children and communities of those who have been locked down.

The United States is the largest jailer on the planet, with less than 5% of the world’s population but nearly 25% of its prisoners. Another seven million Americans are either on probation or on parole. It is generally said that operating all of these federal and state prisons, as well as running local prisons, costs the US government about $80 billion a year.

But in an unpublished study, researchers at Washington University in St. Louis found that the $80 billion price tag is likely a gross underestimate because it doesn’t take into account the social costs of incarceration.

“We find that for every dollar of correctional costs, incarceration generates an additional 10 dollars of social costs,” Carrie Pettus-Davis, director of the university’s Concordance Institute for Advancing Social Justice and co-author of the study.

This editorial is about a ballot measure — Proposition 122 — that Coloradans can vote on in the current election. (Assuming you didn’t just throw your ballot in the trash when it arrived, as a friend recently confessed.)

Readers might wonder why we discuss America’s incarceration crisis in a story about psychedelic mushrooms. Proposition 122, if approved, will allow people age 21 and older to possess and use five specific types of natural psychedelics without risking incarceration. Specifically, the measure covers two chemicals found in psychedelic mushrooms – psilocybin and psilocin – and three other plant-based psychedelics – ibogaine, mescaline and dimethyltryptamine, also known as DMT.

The measure states that the removal and reduction of criminal penalties will apply retroactively to a person who has already been convicted of an offense that would be decriminalized under the measure. People who have served their sentence can apply to the courts to have their criminal record sealed free of charge.

The sale of natural psychedelics outside authorized supervised use facilities will remain illegal.

Colorado’s “Blue Book” Election Information Booklet provides far more information about Proposition 122 (and all the other measures on the November ballot) than I will share here. You can download the booklet here. Also available in Spanish.

Here is part of the “arguments against Proposition 122” presented in the blue book:

Under the guise of health care, Proposition 122 has legalized illegal drugs for more than 50 years and requires local communities to allow the use of these substances. It also offers broad protections to criminals by allowing convictions to be expunged from their records. By decriminalizing personal use, the black market for these drugs can expand, giving young people access or exposing people to psychedelics contaminated with other drugs. This can create additional burdens for local governments who, under the measure, have limited oversight over what is allowed in their communities.

This argument mentions the fact that psilocybin mushrooms have been illegal for over 50 years. But the argument ignores the reasons why psilocybin has been listed as a Schedule I drug for over 50 years.

According to an April 2020 Drug Enforcement Administration “drug fact sheet”, referring to the psychoactive ingredient in psilocybin mushrooms:

What is its effect on the mind?

Psychological consequences of psilocybin use include hallucinations and an inability to discern fantasy from reality. Panic reactions and a psychotic-like episode may also occur, particularly if a user ingests a high dose.

What are its overdose effects?

Effects of overdose include: longer and more intense tripping episodes, psychosis and possible death.

These effects are, of course, similar to the dangers posed by overconsumption of alcohol. The inability to discern fantasy from reality is a common occurrence in any local bar.

Overconsumption of most ordinary nutrients leads to “possible death”… including water, salt and sugar. Are mushrooms, especially psilocybin, particularly toxic?

On DrugPolicy.org:

Psilocybin is considered to have extremely low toxicity and fatalities have been extremely rare.

Why has the possession and use of a wild mushroom, with extremely low toxicity, sent people to prison for over 50 years? I would say it’s for the same reason that the possession and use of an easy-to-grow plant — marijuana — has been sending people to jail for over 50 years.

The people who created the US Controlled Substances Act of 1970 wanted the power to lock up people who shared a certain lifestyle, but did nothing to harm anyone. These lifestyles and beliefs were a threat to the powerful interests known in 1970 as the “establishment”. By leaving alcohol consumption essentially unregulated, but criminalizing marijuana, psilocybin and other herbal drugs, the “establishment” was able to impose – to some extent – a certain worldview and a value system on the American people, and may have boxed in or intimidated people who viewed the world through a different lens.

How did that work out, for the rest of us? Those of us who may not have gotten caught, or who may have preferred booze fantasies over other kinds of experiences?

Those of us whose lives and futures were not destroyed by the US Controlled Substances Act of 1970?

New study examining the economic toll of mass incarceration in the United States finds the total cost exceeds $1 trillion [per year] ― with about half of that burden falling on the families, children and communities of those who have been locked down…

Can this claim be accurate…that the US Controlled Substances Act of 1970 is partly – perhaps largely – responsible for costing Americans over $1 trillion a year, including enforcement, incarceration and social impacts on families and communities?

A question we need to think about. What is the cost to America – or to a local community in America – when someone ingests a psilocybin mushroom and experiences an altered view of reality for four or five hours?

Read Part Three…Monday…

Bill Hudson

Bill Hudson

Bill Hudson began to share his opinions in the Pagosa Daily Post in 2004 and cannot break this habit. He says that in Pagosa Springs, notices are like vans: everyone has one.

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