Oregon’s Vote to Decriminalize Hard Drugs Replaces Jail Time With Path to Rehabilitation

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Oregon has become the first state to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of hard drugs, and many are praising their decision.

While the legalization of marijuana in several states received a lot of attention this Election Day, Oregon took it a step further and became the first state to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of street drugs including heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine. Upon reading the news it may seem like a bad idea, but this monumental decision could potentially save many lives.

Oregon residents voted ‘yes’ to Measure 110, which would no longer require jail time for those in possession of small amounts of heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine, but would instead either require a small fine or the choice to seek treatment at a drug rehabilitation center.

Also included in the measure is the expansion of access to recovery treatments and housing, which would all be paid for with money from the state’s marijuana tax. This is a huge victory for Oregon, especially those struggling with addiction. More focus is put on helping addicts seek treatment and stay clean than locking them up for every drug offense, leaving them drug-addicted and filtering in and out of the prison system.

According to the Oregon Criminal Justice Commission, Measure 110 could help reduce drug possession convictions by as high as 90% and the racial disparity in the arrests of Black Oregonians, who are hit hardest by drug-related arrests, could fall from 276 each year to as low as 14. Although there was initially some criticism surrounding the measure, many are now beginning to see its benefits, and they’re hoping other states will soon follow suit.

Oregon’s bold choice to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of street drugs has set a great example for the rest of the nation. Hopefully, the results in Oregon will push other state governments to view drug addiction as a disease instead of a crime and work towards bettering the lives of many who are struggling with it.