Oregon becomes first state to work to decriminalize drug possession

Oregon becomes first state to work to decriminalize drug possession

On Monday, Oregon enacted an order decriminalizing possession of small amounts of drugs that voters passed in November. That makes Oregon the first state to enact such a measure.

State police can no longer arrest someone for possession of small amounts of heroin, methamphetamine, LSD, oxycodone and other drugs because a new law now works to decriminalize such violations. Instead of being arrested, those found in possession of small amounts of drugs must pay a $100 fine and undergo an addiction evaluation. This would probably lead to compulsory drug treatment.

Supporters of the new measure, which Oregon voters passed by a wide margin in November, hailed it as a revolutionary step for the United States. “It started what we expect will be a cascade of other efforts centered on health over criminalization,” said Kassandra Frederique, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance.

Supporters of the measure said treatment should be a priority and that criminalizing drug possession doesn’t work. In addition to the threat of going to jail, having a criminal record makes it difficult to find housing and work and can haunt a person for life. Two dozen district attorneys opposed the measure, saying it was reckless and would increase the acceptability of dangerous drugs.