Oregon Voters Approve Landmark Drug Policy Reforms

Voters in Oregon made history on Tuesday with the passage of two landmark initiatives aimed at reversing the tide of the War on Drugs. Although votes remain to be counted, Measure 109, a proposal to legalize the therapeutic use of psilocybin, and Measure 110, which decriminalizes possession of all drugs, both appear to be headed for victory in this week’s general election.

Under Measure 110, criminal penalties would be eliminated for the possession of all drugs for personal use by adults, including cocaine, methamphetamine, and heroin. The initiative also greatly expands access to substance abuse treatment and other services without raising taxes. In addition to drug treatment, housing, harm reduction, peer support, and other services will be funded by existing marijuana taxes and savings realized through the elimination of arresting, prosecuting, and incarcerating people for low-level drug offenses.

“Today’s victory is a landmark declaration that the time has come to stop criminalizing people for drug use,” said Kassandra Frederique, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, a reform group that backed the ballot initiative. “Measure 110 is arguably the biggest blow to the war on drugs to date. It shifts the focus where it belongs—on people and public health—and removes one of the most common justifications for law enforcement to harass, arrest, prosecute, incarcerate, and deport people. As we saw with the domino effect of marijuana legalization, we expect this victory to inspire other states to enact their own drug decriminalization policies that prioritize health over punishment.”

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