Drug Decriminalization In Oregon

By Justin Higginbotham

November 9, 2020

On Tuesday, November 3rd, Measure 110 was approved with 59% of the vote, decriminalizing personal possession of all drugs in the state of Oregon. The measure would greatly minimize the punishment for personal, non-commercial, drug possession. Possession of methamphetamines and similar drugs formerly have been classified as a Class A misdemeanor, meaning it could have landed you in prison for up to a year and/or cost a fine up to $6,250. Since the approval of Measure 110 possession of illicit substances is now only a Class E misdemeanor, the punishment for the possession of methamphetamines now being, at most, a $100 fine with no chance of imprisonment. Alternatively, violators can choose to participate in a health assessment for drug addiction in place of the fine. Although possession has become decriminalized, the manufacturing and distribution of illicit substances is still a criminal offense.  A study from The Oregon Criminal Justice Commission estimates that drug possession convictions would decrease by a whole 90.7%.

  Measure 110 would also begin a drug addiction treatment and recovery program funded by the newly established Drug Treatment and Recovery Services Fund (DTRSF). With reductions in drug enforcement costs, Oregon will have an extra 11.25 million dollars to be directed towards the  Drug Treatment and Recovery Services Fund. The DTRSF will be responsible for the funding of establishing addiction recovery programs in Oregon communities if they are capable of meeting certain standards, Ballotpedia writes that  “The centers must provide immediate medical or other treatment 24 hours a day, health assessments, intervention plans, case management services, and peer support and outreach.”

  Full drug legalization has proven to be effective in curbing drug addiction in other countries such as Portugal, yet decriminalization is a step forward from the failure that has been the War on Drugs. Policymakers and voters ought to watch Oregon closely, the measure’s success or failure is to be determined and could inspire other states to follow suit in decriminalization, and possibly full legalization. 

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