Oregon voted to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of street drugs such as cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine last night, by way of, “Measure 110,” with nearly 59% of Oregonians voting in favour of the initiative.
The new law is the first of its kind and has reclassified drug possession offences.
Oregonians also voted to legalize the use of psychedelic mushrooms for therapeutic purposes.
Possession of a controlled substance has been reclassified from a Class A misdemeanour to a Class E violation, making the new punishment for the possession of any illegal drug to become the legal equivalent to that of a traffic ticket.
On February 1, the state will no longer be jailing people for petty possession of a substance. Violators will be given the option of paying a $100 fine or participating in a health assessment program which will be conducted through various addiction recovery centres.
Oregon made history tonight by becoming the first state to decriminalize drug possession! Our c4 @DrugPolicyAct led this campaign with @voteYESon110 to make this visionary initiative a reality! This victory is truly transformative. #Election2020 🙂#OREGON pic.twitter.com/3TrrGguh3x
— Drug Policy Alliance (@DrugPolicyOrg) November 4, 2020
The push behind the decriminalization of drugs in Oregon came from the success of similar programs that have taken place in other countries, namely Portugal and Switzerland, where disciplinary drug laws have been reduced in favour of a more public health-oriented approach.
Anyone in Oregon who manufactures or distributes, or is caught with dealer-sized quantities of any form of illegal substances is still subject to a criminal penalty, and will still be arrested and face criminal prosecution under the existing state laws.