Oregon is among the first states to decriminalize possession of cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, and other formerly illegal hard drugs. The ballot measure on the issue took effect this week, the AP reported. With voters passing the resolution by a large margin this past November.
Other now legal drugs include oxycodone, LSD, MDMA (ecstasy) and methadone the Associated Press said.
Rather than face real charges, those found in possession of these drugs will now face a hand-slap $100 fine.
The spokesman for the Drug Policy Alliance, which was the main supporter of the ballot initiative, Matt Sutton, told reporters that the citation will be akin to a “traffic ticket.” The other consequence could be a physical assessment that might lead to addiction help.
“The first part of our inhumane drug war has fallen, starting what we anticipate to be a series of events putting health over criminalization,” Kassandra Frederique, leader of the Drug Policy Alliance, told reporters.
Under the new rules, recovery centers will be given the task of “triaging the needs of people who use drugs and addressing any on-going needs thorough case management and connecting them to care services.”
The addiction centers will be funded by the tax revenue of Oregon’s legalized marijuana sector. The fund is sure to be stacked with cash if trends continue as projected. With marijuana tax revenues going to $133 million in 2020 — a 30% growth over the previous year and a 545% increase from 2016 when the process started.
Two dozen D.A.s have opposed the measure, saying it is reckless and will lead to an increase in the use of dangerous street drugs.
Oregon is a leader in liberalizing drug laws. In 1973 it became the first to decriminalize possession of marijuana — and in 2014, recreational marijuana use was legalized.
But Sutton told reporters that there are no plans to push for legislation to regulate the market of hard drugs in the state.