Oregon Drug Decriminalization Measure Takes Effect Today

Oregon’s first-in-the-nation drugs decriminalization policy takes effect today. The measure was approved by voters last November.

Full story after the jump.

Oregon’s first-in-the-nation drugs decriminalization measure takes effect today, making all low-level possession cases a civil violation and $100 fine, the Register-Guard reports. The fine can be avoided by law violators if they agree to participate in a health assessment.

The Oregon Criminal Justice Commission estimated that the reforms would drop yearly convictions for possession of a controlled substance by 3,679, or 90.7%. The measure also reallocates tens of millions from the Oregon Marijuana Account – which is funded from cannabis taxes – to addiction treatment and harm-reduction efforts, the report says.

Under the measure – which was approved by nearly 60% of Oregonians during November’s General Election – low-level possession is defined as:

  • Less than 1 gram of heroin
  • Less than 1 gram, or less than 5 pills, of MDMA
  • Less than 2 grams of methamphetamine
  • Less than 40 units of LSD
  • Less than 12 grams of psilocybin
  • Less than 40 units of methadone
  • Less than 40 pills of oxycodone
  • Less than 2 grams of cocaine

During the 2020 election, voters in the state also approved a measure to legalize psilocybin therapy.

The measure also reduced some felony possession limits for certain drugs, including:

  • 1 to 3 grams of heroin
  • 1 to 4 grams of MDMA
  • 2 to 8 grams of methamphetamine
  • 2 to 8 grams of cocaine

Possession over the limits, manufacturing, and distribution remain criminal violations in the state. The measure also reduces the ability for police to use drug paraphernalia in a vehicle as probable cause, Chris Parosa, senior prosecutor for the Lane County District Attorney’s Office, told the Register-Guard.

“For example when officers walk up (to a car) and immediately notice …  a pipe commonly used to smoke some illicit drug from it, ordinarily, if a police officer saw that, they would immediately develop probable cause for a potential felony. Now, if they were to walk up and find a pipe, which we can only assume has a residue quantity of drugs in it, it’s no more than a violation.” – Parosa to the Register-Guard

Devon Downeysmith, a spokesperson for the pro-Measure 110 Oregon Health Justice Recovery Alliance, said in an email to The Register-Guard, said that while “it will take time to see the new law’s full effects on the state as a whole,” the “positive impacts of the new law could be immediate” for individuals “struggling now.”

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