All Drugs Have Now Been Decriminalized In Oregon
Oregon has become the first US state to take the dramatic step of ending criminal penalties for drug possession after voters backed a ballot measure calling for decriminalization during the recent presidential election. This means that those caught with research chemicals like heroin, cocaine, and other illicit substances will now be offered treatment for drug abuse rather than face prosecution.
It’s important to note that decriminalization is not the same as legalization and that it remains illegal to manufacture or sell drugs in Oregon. However, those who are caught in possession of quantities of narcotics that are deemed suitable for personal use will no longer be hit with criminal charges. Instead, they will be given the option to pay a $100 fine or sign up for treatment.
The measure was introduced in an attempt to stem the spiraling opioid epidemic that has seen overdose deaths skyrocket throughout the US in recent years. By offering addicts support it is hoped that more will be able to access the help they need Inspiration for the initiative came largely from Portugal, where addiction and overdose rates were among the highest in the world until the government decriminalized all drugs in 2001. Since then, the Iberian country has seen a huge drop in the number of people suffering from drug abuse disorders, while HIV infections as a result of needle sharing have also plummeted.
The Drug Policy Alliance says that the new measure will save the state up to $100 million as a result of fewer arrests and incarcerations, all of which are intended to be used to pay for the new support services. This, it says, can be bolstered by the 140 million that the state raises each year in tax revenues as a result of legal marijuana sales.
Paradoxically, however, many of the substances that have been decriminalized in Oregon remain illegal under federal law, so it remains to be seen how the new legislation is implemented.