Oregon has become the first US state to decriminalize possession of hard drugs like heroin, cocaine, and LSD

  • Oregon voters have approved a ballot measure to decriminalize possession of small amounts of hard drugs, according to Decision Desk HQ.
  • The measure, known as Measure 110, is also meant to provide drug-recovery services partially funded through marijuana taxes.
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As several states voted on Tuesday to legalise marijuana, Oregon went a step further yet again by becoming the first state in US history to decriminalize possession of hard drugs.

Oregon Measure 110 passed with 58.5% of the vote, according to Decision Desk HQ.

It reclassifies personal possession of heroin, cocaine, and LSD from misdemeanours or felonies to violations punishable with a $US100 fine.

Peter Zuckerman, the campaign manager for Measure 110, told The Oregonian that the measure’s success was “a big step forward.”

“Today is a huge day of celebration, but the work is not over and we have a lot more work to do to win a better system for everybody,” he said.

In addition to decriminalizing some drugs, the measure also establishes statewide drug-recovery services that are intended to be partially funded by the state’s marijuana tax.

The law mandates the Oregon Health Authority to establish a council to distribute funds and oversee the implementation of the recovery centres. The secretary of state is required to audit the council biennially.

A leading opponent to the measure, Jim O’Rourke, told The Oregonian that the measure wouldn’t be successful at providing more opportunities for treatment.

“We are disappointed that Oregon voters have been misled into decriminalizing heroin, meth, cocaine, oxycodone,” he said. “Both sides need to come together with the governor and Legislature and give the voters what they really intended — saving lives and more treatment beds.”

The text for Oregon Measure 110 read as follows:

Summary

Measure mandates establishment/ funding of “addiction recovery centres” (centres) within each existing coordinated care organisation service area by October 1, 2021; centres provide drug users with triage, health assessments, treatment, recovery services. To fund centres, measure dedicates all marijuana tax revenue above $US11,250,000 quarterly, legislative appropriations, and any savings from reductions in arrests, incarceration, supervision resulting from the measure. Reduces marijuana tax revenue for other uses. Measure reclassifies personal non-commercial possession of certain drugs under specified amount from misdemeanour or felony (depending on person’s criminal history) to Class E violation subject to either $US100 fine or a completed health assessment by centre. Oregon Health Authority establishes council to distribute funds/ oversee implementation of centres. Secretary of State audits biennially. Other provisions.

Result of “Yes” Vote

“Yes” vote provides addiction recovery centres/services; marijuana taxes partially finance (reduces revenues for other purposes); reclassifies possession of specified drugs, reduces penalties; requires audits.

Result of “No” Vote

“No” vote rejects requiring addiction recovery centres/services; retains current marijuana tax revenue uses; maintains current classifications/ penalties for possession of drugs.

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