Oregon Becomes First State to Decriminalize Meth, Heroin & Cocaine
'Drug Addiction Treatment and Recovery Act' passed by state lawmakers on Wednesday
Democrat-controlled Oregon has become the first state to decriminalize hard drugs, including meth, heroin, and cocaine, according to reports.
The state's lawmakers passed legislation early on Wednesday morning in a 59-41% vote, according to the Associated Press.
The "Drug Addiction Treatment and Recovery Act" seeks to transition Oregon's drug policy from a punitive, criminal approach to "a humane, cost-effective, health approach."
"People suffering from addiction are more effectively treated with health care services than with criminal punishments," the bill states.
"A health care approach includes a health assessment to figure out the needs of people who are suffering from addiction, and it includes connecting them to the services they need."
Drug users will no longer be viewed as criminals by the state and will instead receive free services from the government.
Oregon will now offer them addiction services funded by marijuana tax revenue, which is more than $100 million a year in the state, according to Fox News.
Only small amounts of drugs are decriminalized, such as less than 1 gram of heroin or MDMA; 2 grams of cocaine or methamphetamine; 12 grams of psilocybin mushrooms; and 40 doses of LSD, oxycodone, or methadone.
Criminal penalties for possession of these amounts are replaced with a fine of up to $100, which can be waived if the user is evaluated at Addiction Recovery Centers.
Crimes that are associated with drug use, such as manufacturing drugs, selling drugs, and driving under the influence, are still criminal offenses.
More than 100 organizations endorsed the measure, including the Oregon Chapter of the American College of Physicians, Oregon Nurses Association, Oregon School Psychologists' Association, Oregon Academy of Family Physicians, the ACLU, and others.
There was also a fair amount of opposition to the measure, with two dozen district attorneys in the state saying the measure “recklessly decriminalizes possession of the most dangerous types of drugs (and) will lead to an increase in acceptability of dangerous drugs.”
Multiple countries in Europe, including Portugal, the Netherlands, and Switzerland, have decriminalized hard drugs without rampant negative effects.
Portugal decriminalized all drugs in 2001, which did not lead to an increase in drug use but did result in a dramatic reduction of pathologies associated with drug use.
Sexually transmitted diseases and overdose deaths soared, according to a 2009 Cato Institue study.
A 2015 European Drug Report also found that Portugal's drug overdose death rate is five times lower than the European Union average.