Published on
November 4, 2020

Statement from the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) on Drug Policy Reform in the 2020 U.S. Election

  • Overwhelming victories represent public rejection of the War on Drugs, embrace of psychedelic initiatives in Oregon and the District of Columbia following scientific advances
  • Oregon becomes first US state to decriminalize drug possession
  • 61% of voters bridge partisan divides, advance evidence-based approaches to substance use

Santa Cruz, CA, November 4, 2020 – Following the passage of all nine statewide ballot measures to reform drug policies across the United States, including the first measure to decriminalize drug possession in Oregon with a Portugal-inspired approach, the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) releases the following statements:

Natalie Ginsberg, M.S.W., Director of Policy & Advocacy
Yesterday, Oregon voters crowned an election night of resounding wins for drug reform across the country with a groundbreaking reversal of our decades-long War on Drugs: decriminalization of drug possession. Republicans and Democrats across the country voted with unity and clarity to remove criminal penalties for drug use and expand legal systems for safe access. Despite the rapid progress of medical psychedelic trials and cannabis reform, drug possession is still the leading reason for arrest in the United States, and communities of color continue to be disproportionately criminalized. Voters in Oregon have emphatically rejected punishment and criminalization as a response to drug use, in favor of an evidence-based public health approach, by expanding treatment opportunities for problematic substance use and removing criminalization.

Inspired by science, Oregonians also voted to create the first legal access to supervised psilocybin experiences independent of the FDA drug approval process. Washington, D.C.’s landslide vote to decriminalize psychedelic plants sends a powerful message to the rest of the nation, including to our elected officials on Capitol Hill, that connecting to ancestral traditions and facilitating healing, joy, or spirituality through psychedelics should never end in incarceration.

Ismail Ali, J.D., Policy & Advocacy Counsel
American voters are ready for a profoundly different approach to drugs and the people who use them. As the nation emerges from a century of racism-fueled drug hysteria, the potential benefits of cannabis, psilocybin, and other psychedelics - and the oppressive impact of drug criminalization - is becoming clearer, paving the way for these and future reforms. These resounding victories bridge political spectrums across the nation and are inspired by a political vision rooted in compassion, justice, and dignity. It is essential that this spirit remains present and prioritized in the systems and industries that emerge from these positive developments.

Rick Doblin, Ph.D., Executive Director
We are delighted to see legal access to psychedelics for spiritual, health, or personal growth join cannabis reform as a popular and bipartisan issue despite the barriers imposed by antiquated drug policies. For example, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) protects the monopoly on research-grade marijuana provided to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), thereby fundamentally inhibiting research into the potential benefits of cannabis since 1968. Since 2000, MAPS has sought to end that monopoly and will soon be filing a lawsuit against the Attorney General and DEA to issue licenses to multiple producers according to the 2016 guidance. Further research into the medical applications of cannabis, MDMA, and other substances currently deemed to have “no medical benefit” will provide evidence as a basis for regulation and for insurance coverage of treatments when appropriate.

MAPS Statement: Considerations for the Regulation and Decriminalization of Psychedelic Substances


Betty Aldworth, Interim Communications Director or

Founded in 1986, MAPS is a 501(c)(3) non-profit research and educational organization that develops medical, legal, and cultural contexts for people to benefit from the careful uses of psychedelics and marijuana. Since its founding, MAPS has raised over $100 million for psychedelic therapy and medical marijuana research and education. For more information, visit