Oregon decriminalizes all drugs


Turner Demers

Oregon plans to shift criminal charges towards rehabilitation and recovery efforts.

Turner Demers, News Editor

Oregon became the first state to decriminalize hard drugs. 

The bill, called Measure 110, supports making non-commercial possession of a controlled substance punishable by a $100 fine. The act also intends to establish a drug addiction rehabilitation program funded by the state’s marijuana tax revenue. The bill passed with 59 percent of more than two million votes in the 2020 election.

The state believes this will reduce incarcerations by 90 percent; Oregon claims the 26 highest state imprisonment rate as cited by the Bureau of Justice.

“I think rehab centers will be more successful than prisons,” said senior Faith Spangler.

The measure takes effect on Dec. 3, and addiction recovery centers must be available by Oct. 1, 2021. Some believe that the bill will have negative effects that may potentially endanger citizens.

“Driving under the influence of drugs will be more prevalent,” said Ocean Lakes resource officer Michael Lohse. “People who were afraid to try drugs may now give them a chance.” 

Although the state of Oregon made up just 1.4 percent of the nation’s total DUI cases in 2018, drug use remains a problem.

According to the Oregon Nurse’s Association, one in 11 Oregon residents are addicted to drugs, and two people die per day from overdoses. 

On the other hand, you can not force someone into treatment in my experience. Drug use increase would be a logical conclusion, but I guess I could be surprised.” said social studies teacher Erika Connolly.

Portugal decriminalized hard drugs in 2000. According to Portuguese officials, there was no increase in drug use, drug-related deaths fell, and the number of people treated for addiction increased by 20 percent before it stabilized. 

“This is such a big step in moving to a health-based approach instead of a criminal punishment,” said Jane Gullickson, the co-chief petitioner of Measure 110.