SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Police in Oregon can no longer arrest someone for possession of small amounts of heroin, methamphetamine, LSD, oxycodone and other hard drugs as a ballot measure that decriminalized them took effect on Monday.
Instead, those found in possession would face a $100 fine or a health assessment that could lead to addiction counseling. Backers of the ballot measure decriminalizing hard drugs, which Oregon voters passed by a wide margin in November, hailed it as a revolutionary move for the United States.
“Today, the first domino of our cruel and inhumane war on drugs has fallen, setting off what we expect to be a cascade of other efforts centering health over criminalization,” said Kassandra Frederique, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, which spearheaded the ballot initiative.
Ballot Measure 110’s backers said treatment needs to be the priority and that criminalizing drug possession was not working. Besides facing the prospect of being locked up, having a criminal record makes it difficult to find housing and jobs and can haunt a person for a lifetime.
Two dozen district attorneys had opposed the measure, saying it was reckless and would lead to an increase in the acceptability of dangerous drugs.
Instead of facing arrest, those found by law enforcement with personal-use amounts of drugs would face a civil citation, “like a traffic ticket,” and not a criminal citation, said Matt Sutton, spokesman for the Drug Policy Alliance.
Under the new system, addiction recovery centers will be tasked with “triaging the acute needs of people who use drugs and assessing and addressing any on-going needs thorough intensive case management and linkage to care and services.”
The addiction recovery centers will be funded by millions of dollars of tax revenue from Oregon’s legalized marijuana industry. That diverts some funds from other programs and entities that already receive it, like schools.
TO CONTINUE READING: https://www.pbs.org/newshour/politics/oregon-1st-state-to-decriminalize-possession-of-hard-drugs