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Monday, April 15, 2024

Oregon Becomes First State to Decriminalize Hard Drugs

'This measure will tie the hands of law enforcement and prosecutors everywhere and lead to disastrous results for our communities...'

Oregon became the first state to decriminalize small possessions of hard drugs like heroin, cocaine and meth on Wednesday morning.

Voters passed the Drug Addiction Treatment and Recovery Act with 59% support to transition Oregon’s drug policy from a “criminal approach” to a “human, cost-effective, health approach.”

“People suffering from addiction are more effectively treated with health care services than with criminal punishments,” the bill reads.

“A health care approach includes a health assessment to figure out the needs of people who are suffering from addiction, and it includes connecting them to the services they need,” it said.

Oregon law enforcement will now be required to offer drug users addiction services funded by marijuana tax revenue instead of arresting them.

Drug users are allowed to carry 1 gram of heroin or MDMA; 2 grams of cocaine or methamphetamine; 12 grams of psilocybin mushrooms; and 40 doses of LSD, oxycodone or methadone.

Those carrying more than these amounts could be charged with a fine of $100, which would be waived if the user agreed to be evaluated at Addiction Recovery Centers.

At least two dozen district attorneys in the state voiced opposition to the measure, arguing that it “recklessly decriminalizes possession of the most dangerous types of drugs [and] will lead to an increase in acceptability of dangerous drugs.”

“Sadly, many people only confront their substance use disorder because of a contact with law enforcement which often ends in diversion and treatment,” the Oregon District Attorney’s Association said in a statement.

“This measure will tie the hands of law enforcement and prosecutors everywhere and lead to disastrous results for our communities,” they said.

Another problem with the bill is that it provides no guaranteed amount of funding for addiction treatment itself.

“Measure 110 doesn’t have any goals in it,” said Mike Marshall, the director of Oregon Recovers, earlier this year.

“How many people are going to actually be offered treatment?” Marshall asked. “It doesn’t say.”

Without making a clear amount of funding available for addiction treatment, this measure will actually fail the people it aims to help, argued the Oregon Council for Behavioral Health.

“In failing to add a single penny of revenue to these needed supports, BM 110 will undermine progress in our recovery system and fails to provide a solution for Oregon’s most vulnerable,” the group said.

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