Oregon Becomes the First State to Decriminalize Use of All Drugs

The initiative makes noncommercial possession of controlled substances a citable offense punishable by a $100 fine.


Oregon voters today approved a ballot initiative that decriminalizes noncommercial possession of all drugs, something no jurisdiction in the United States has ever done. With 70 percent of precincts reporting, 59 percent of voters favored Measure 110.

The initiative's supporters included the Oregon Democratic Party, the American Civil Liberties Union, Human Rights Watch, the NAACP of Portland, state medical groups, and musician John Legend. Opponents included former Gov. John Kitzhaber (D), state legislators, two dozen district attorneys, and the Oregon Council for Behavioral Health, which argued that it did not provide enough resources for addiction treatment.

While marijuana is already legal in Oregon, Measure 110 eliminates criminal penalties for low-level possession of drugs that Oregon continues to ban, including heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, and psychedelics such as LSD and psilocybin. The initiative, dubbed the Addiction Treatment and Recovery Act, reclassifies personal possession of controlled substances, currently a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a maximum fine of $6,250, as a Class E violation punishable by a $100 fine. The initiative's supporters estimate that it will reduce drug possession arrests by more than 90 percent.

Drug users can avoid fines by completing a "health assessment" at an "addiction recovery center." The initiative says the assessment should "prioritize the self-identified needs of the client" and refer him to appropriate services. Under Measure 110, the state will use marijuana tax revenue and savings on correctional costs to pay for expanded drug treatment.

"People suffering from addiction are more effectively treated with health care services than with criminal punishments," the initiative says. "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."

Kitzhaber, a former E.R. physician, said he shared the concerns of Measure 110's backers about "the disaster caused by the War on Drugs" but worried that the initiative would make it "more difficult to treat the underlying addiction that leads to drug use." Decriminalizing drug possession, he said, means that courts "will no longer have the ability to offer people the choice to pursue treatment"—by which he meant they could no longer force people into treatment under the threat of criminal penalties.

The approach embodied in Measure 110 is a less authoritarian version of Portugal's policy, which requires drug users to undergo "counseling" from Orwellian-sounding Dissuasion Committees and in some cases mandatory treatment. Portugal's experience since it decriminalized drug possession in 2000 shows that addiction (as opposed to casual use) need not rise and may in fact decline when the government stops treating drug users like criminals. It also shows that many of the problems attributed to drug habits, such as skin infections, blood-borne diseases, social marginalization, and squalid living conditions, are caused or exacerbated by prohibition.

NEXT: Oregon Becomes the First State to Legalize Psilocybin

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Once in a while, good news.

  2. Oregon trail redux

    1. I quit working at shop rite and now I make $65-85 per/h. How? I’m working online! My work didn’t exactly make me happy so I decided to take a chance on something new after 4 years it was so hard to quit my day job but now Iy couldn’t be happier So i try use.
      Here’s what I do....... WORK 24

  3. Two cheers for Oregon.

    Now go out and arrest and charge the vandals destroying Portland.

  4. So the, ‘.. savings on correctional costs’ - how will this be carried out, accomplished?

    The strain, number of ‘health assessments’, treatment centers, petty theft, strong armed robbery, home invasions will inevitably increase as well with this Measure.

    Brave, dangerous new world..

    1. Where will the additional thefts, strong-arm robberies, and home invasions come from?

      1. you sound naïve

      2. A dope feind might think about stealing my golden menorah to hawk for some cash to purchase another marihuana pipe or heroin pipette.

    2. Fuck off, slaver!

      1. Did you say your prayers to your pedo God this morning you waste of life? You know your god doesn't exist right? God wouldn't make a con artist pedophile a prophet you goddamn moron. If there's a hell all the Mormons are there.

        Fuck you Chuck and your Mormon family. Strangle yourself with your magic undwear
        The only good Mormon is 15000000 dead mormons. Make the world a better place and send them to the gas chamber. Goddamn pedo worshippers!

  5. "Hey, drug addicts! Come to beautiful Oregon! We provide free housing, free health care, and you can take all the drugs you want!"

    1. A self correcting problem.

  6. Deregulate you mean.

    Im sure if you violate some law about weed you can go to jail.

    I can never go to jail for canteloupe.

    1. >I can never go to jail for canteloupe.
      as long as you do it in the privacy of your home

    2. Are you sure about that, what if you grow too much of it and it affects interstate commerce...feds will be sure to come down on you.

      Wickard v. Filburn

    3. Have you tried shoving one up someoneelse's ass?

  7. Great news! Now, Natural Selection can eliminate the weeds of society unimpeded.

    1. my thoughts exactly

    2. What is the Libertarian position on Naloxone? Should the tax payer foot the bill for cops to carry the life saving drug?

      1. Just put naloxone in vending machines.

      2. What's the cost benefit analysis say for either giving them the Naloxone vs dumping their body in a mass grave?

        1. Leave them where they lie. If they really wanted saving or if someone else wanted them saved, the naloxone would be under the sink or in little glass boxes on the wall that say, "Break glass in case of overdose." right next to the AED.

          Just ask any of the mask-advocating "personal responsibility" gurus around here.

      3. Just recoup the money from the addicts that overdo... lmfao!

      4. Naloxone is a life saving drug. So is lidocaine and epinephrine. EMS carries those and every crash cart in every hospital does.

        There is no libertarian position on that or any other medical drug.

  8. In my state there is a standing order for naloxone.

    You can go to any pharmacy without a prescription and get it.

    Are you all OK with that?

    I am.

    1. People who aren't ok with it are goddamn assholes

  9. I have a couple of concerns with this measure as it passed.

    1) The funding source for the program is dubious. I think it will ultimately require more of a direct taxpayer subsidy. Pot money is not the gold mine everyone thinks it is.

    2) Given a rational choice, I would pay the $100 fine rather than someone tell me I have a drug problem and I have to get treatment. But what happens if someone refuses the health assessment AND doesn't pay the fine? I did not see that explained in the measure. It seems to me either this would be unenforceable, or users are still going to end up in the system when they get warrants.

    1. They can suspend your drivers license I assume. They suspend it for people who don't pay fare evasion tickets on mass transit.

    2. To add on my concern, I'd also be worried that this may lead to over-enforcement of other crimes like petty theft as a "work-around" for the decriminalization for drug use.
      On the other hand, this should go a long way in fixing the homelessness issues here in Washington.

      1. It won't fix the homeless issue, it'll be exactly the same if not worse... Wait I see what you did there! Lol

  10. The initiative says the assessment should "prioritize the self-identified needs of the client"

    “I think I need more drugs.”

  11. Well, this may be the one semi positive thing out of this cycle. Hard drugs are bad news, but making people felons for getting high doesn't help anything. Full legalization would be better though as it would lower prices and eliminate crime associated with drug use. But fuuuck Oregon. So glad to be out of Washington now too as of a couple months ago.

  12. Make $6,000-$8,000 A Month Online With No Prior Experience Or Skills Required. Be Your Own Boss And for more info visit any tab this site Thanks a lot .by follow detailsHere═❥❥  Read More  

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.