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Oregon Decriminalizes Drug Possession
by Krystina Murray
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The night of the election brought about several changes in American history. One of the changes centered on the decriminalization of drug possession in Oregon. To be specific, the state of Oregon has declared the decriminalization of marijuana as well as the possession of hard drugs like cocaine, methamphetamine, and heroin utilizing Measure 110. Additionally, the measure reduces the penalties for the possession of larger amounts of drugs. Aside from marijuana being decriminalized, this decriminalization of drugs includes stimulants such as methamphetamines and cocaine. Additionally, reports indicate LSD and Oxycodone decriminalization are in effect. In addition to the decriminalization of such drugs, funding for treatment, and harm reduction programs would be in effect for recovery.

Much of the decision to decriminalize drugs stemmed from voters showing a resistance to the American war on drugs. As of late, many states have shown a relaxed attitude to the legalization of marijuana, with 1 in 3 Americans residing in a state that allows recreational marijuana use for those aged 21 or older. Twenty-six states have decriminalized marijuana for recreational use. Due to research revealing ways that drugs like Psilocybin mushroom’s ability to aid in depression, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and other conditions, states like Washington D.C. have approved the use of this substance in small amounts. Oregon participated as they approved Measure 109 in order to decriminalize the use of psychedelic mushrooms. The catch is it must be used in a state-licensed psilocybin-assisted program and solely for those battling challenging mental health conditions.

The Pros Of Oregon’s Drug Decriminalization The decriminalization of drugs does not permit the widespread use of drugs. According to the Drug Policy Alliance, there were roughly 1.6 million arrests in 2018 for drug possession alone. The decriminalization of drugs for Oregon would help protect some people in such cases by, “removing the penalty for the possession of small amounts of drugs.” Furthermore, it allows people to take control of their addiction by offering them the option of getting health checkups. This is based on the condition they do not want to finance or cannot afford to pay fines for drug penalties. Portugal implemented drug decriminalization with positive results stemming from decreases in drug fatalities (from 80 to 16 in the span of 11 years) decreases in HIV diagnoses, and decreases in drug-possession prisoners.

Another incentive for the decriminalization of drugs is reducing racially motivated arrests, saving costs used to imprison people, and reducing costs used to persecute people. For example, African Americans are much more likely to be penalized and more harshly than white counterparts for drug possession. The Oregon Criminal Justice Commission states the measure 110, “would reduce convictions for drug possessions by nearly 90%,” eliminating the high numbers of jailed African Americans for such offenses. This can possibly nullify racial stereotypes related to drug possession. The health of those impacted by drug possession gain exposure to treatment, with an understanding how treatment works. If they struggle with substance abuse, they would have care. This opens them up to receiving help during addiction.

Concerns On Measure 110 Despite Measure 110 seeking to reduce inmate populations surrounding drug possession and provide the option of health screenings and treatment, some still have fears. Some people believe the decriminalization of drugs will allow for widespread use as people may not fear consequences of possession. Some critics have posed the idea that people may desire drugs more because there are less legal risks; however, many believe the opposite would occur. Since stigmas with drug abuse may become lessened, people may feel that substance abuse is less of a taboo. This could lead to the increase of people seeking treatment for their substance use disorder and not hiding it from friends or family.

Last Edited: November 13, 2020