Oregonians voted to approve state Measure 110 on November 3, making them the first state in the nation to decriminalize drug possession of any kind.
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Yes, you read that right: If a person is caught with small amounts of any drug in Oregon, including cocaine and heroin, they won't be facing jail time. The measure passed on Election Night with approval from almost 60 percent of voters.
To be clear though, this doesn’t mean that drugs are now legal in Oregon. They're not. Instead, the state plans to swap out criminal penalties like jail time with a more public health-oriented approach. If caught possessing small amounts of illegal drugs, a person will instead get the option of paying a $100 fine or getting a “completed health assessment” at an addiction recovery center. Supporters of decriminalization argue that drug misuse and addiction are public health issues, not problems for the criminal justice system.
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So, just to reiterate, the sale of drugs is still illegal in Oregon, but possession of drugs won't land you in a cell.
As part of the measure, the state also plans to use existing marijuana sales tax revenues and any savings that come directly from the measure (for example, savings from reduced prison capacity) and use them to set up a more expansive drug addiction treatment and recovery program.
Separately, Oregon voters also legalized psilocybin, known as magic mushrooms, for people age 21 and older. The law would allow the drug to be used to treat depression, anxiety and other conditions.
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