Oregon became the first state to decriminalize the possession of drugs for personal use following the overwhelming approval of Measure 110 on November 4, 2020.
What does this mean, though?
Measure 110: Change Is Coming
The ballot, Measure 110, will reclassify the personal possession of small amounts of drugs, including heroin, cocaine, meth, and Oxycodone. Possession will become a civil violation in line with a traffic offense. If the person participates in a health assessment, they can avoid the $100 fine.
Penalties for possessing larger quantities of drugs will also be reduced under Measure 110 from a felony to a misdemeanor.
Proponents of this system say they want those addicted to drugs removed from the criminal justice system and the problem treated as medical issue rather than a criminal one. New York-based advocacy group Drug Policy Alliance funded a campaign in favor of this measure. This group previously backed the legalization of recreational cannabis back in 2014.
There is vocal opposition to this measure from two advocacy groups (the Oregon Council for Behavioral Health and Oregon Recovers), and also from the Oregon District Attorneys Association. Opponents feel this change is experimental and flawed. They also point out that Oregon has some of the highest rates of substance abuse in the U.S. while there is also poor access to services.
What Does Measure 110 Hope to Achieve?
By reallocating the tens of millions of dollars generated by Oregon’s cannabis tax – one huge benefit of marijuana’s legalization – it will be possible to fund health assessments and treatment.
The decriminalization part of the measure will take effect on February 1, 2021.
The Oregon Criminal Justice Commission feels that convictions for drug possession will fall by 90% as a result of this measure.
To anyone who feels this is a weakening in the war on drugs, Drug Policy Alliance’s executive director Kassandra Frederique feels that Oregonians understanding that drug use is a health issue will act as a “huge sledgehammer to the cornerstone of the war on drugs.”
Legalization Vs. Decriminalization of Drugs: What’s The Difference?
While some people use legalization and decriminalization interchangeably, there is a crucial difference.
Legalization means a once-banned substance is no longer illegal. There may be some restrictions in place, like age limits, or possession limits, but you won’t be breaking any laws.
When a substance is decriminalized however, it remains federally illegal while penalties for possession can be reduced to a fine and set as a low level of priority for law enforcement.
What To Do Next
If you’re struggling with drugs or alcohol, take action before things get to the stage of problems with the law. Here at Landmark Recovery, we welcome all positive changes like this so anyone with an addiction can seek treatment rather than being punished for their actions.
Our goal is to help individuals overcome their addiction, and get back to living the life they dreamed. Call the admissions team today at 888-448-0302 and get back on track.