On November 3rd, 2020, Oregon voters elected to decriminalize all drugs. Mesure 110, (Decriminalizing all drugs) became a law as voters won with 55.8% of the vote. Oregon is the first state to do this, and states like Arizona, New Jersey, and South Dakota appear to be following Oregon’s lead as they approved ballot measures to legalize recreational marijuana.
Decriminalization still does not make these drugs legal, and possession of larger quantities will still lead to penalties, though they will be reduced to misdemeanors. Possession of one or two grams, depending on the substance, will now be considered a non-criminal Class E violation. Anyone who is found with these substances will have a choice between a $100 fine or a health assessment with an addiction treatment professional. This means instead of jail time, the drug user gets the help they need with addiction programs. Oregon has also been participating in measure 109, which legalizes the use of medicinal Psilocybin. Psilocybin is the main component in magic mushrooms.
Oregon, like many other states, is in need of a new approach. From 2008 to 2018, there was a dramatic increase in hospitalizations in Oregon for serious bacterial infections associated with injection drug use. According to a recent study, many people believe that Oregon was inspired by Portugal, as they decriminalized drugs as well with positive results, reducing drug overdoses, diseases such as HIV, and decreased drug use by “criminals.” a quote from the Drug Policy Alliance Director Kassadrea Frederiqe states “people and public health — removes one of the most common justifications for law enforcement to harass, arrest, prosecute, incarcerate, and deport people. Measure 110 is arguably the biggest blow to the war on drugs to date. It shifts the focus where it belongs.”