Voters in Oregon have passed Measure 110. The legislation decriminalizes the possession of small amounts of all drugs, including cocaine, meth and heroin.
Instead of facing a criminal felony charge, those found in possession will instead face a $100 fine. Alternatively, they may be ordered to complete a “health assessment” at an addiction recovery center
The bill will also redirect some of the money from the legal sale of marijuana to help finance treatment programs for drug users. The state legalized marijuana in 2014.
Oregon also passed Measure 109, a separate piece of legislation that legalizes psilocybin, the psychoactive substance in magic mushrooms. This makes it the first state to do so. Some therapists have argued that small amounts of psilocybin can be used in a therapeutic setting to help those with addictions to other drugs to reduce their use.
Measure 110 was supported by the national drug reform group, Drug Policy Action, along with groups such as NAACP Portland, local Black Lives Matter chapters, and physician groups.
Oregon made history tonight by becoming the first state to decriminalize drug possession! Our c4 @DrugPolicyAct led this campaign with @voteYESon110 to make this visionary initiative a reality! This victory is truly transformative. #Election2020 🙂#OREGON pic.twitter.com/3TrrGguh3x
— Drug Policy Alliance (@DrugPolicyOrg) November 4, 2020
Since President Nixon first declared the country’s “war on drugs” some 50 years ago, those from Black and other minority groups have been disproportionately targeted by law enforcement officials for drug offenses. Advocates for decriminalization say that focusing on treatment would prove a far more effective tool than locking users in jail.
Many studies have highlighted that LGBTQ people use drugs at a higher rate than other groups, and experience a greater level of substance abuse. This is often due to queer communities facing discrimination, harassment and higher levels of mental health issues.
According to government data, in 2018, “More than a third (37.6%) of sexual minority adults 18 and older reported past year marijuana use, compared to 16.2% reported by the overall adult population.” This pattern was repeated for opioid use (9% among gay and bi people compared to 3.8% of the general population). HRC says LGBTQ youth are twice as likely as their straight counterparts to have experimented with drugs, putting them at risk of developing substance abuse problems.
Besides the legislative changes in Oregon, the states of New Jersey and Arizona also voted to legalize marijuana yesterday.