SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Oregon became the first state to decriminalize hard drugs like heroin and methamphetamine and to legalize therapeutic use of psilocybin mushrooms on Tuesday, with two ballot measures passing by large margins.
Measure 110 would completely change how Oregon’s justice system treats those who are found with personal-use amounts of the hard drugs.
“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, which was behind the hard-drugs measure. “Measure 110 is arguably the biggest blow to the war on drugs to date.”
Instead of going to trial and facing possible jail time, a person would have the option of paying a $100 fine or attending new “addiction recovery centers.”
The centers would be funded by millions of dollars of tax revenue from the legalized, regulated marijuana industry in the state that was the country’s first to decriminalize marijuana possession.
“This is such a big step in moving to a health-based approach instead of criminal punishment, and we’re devoting significant new resources to help Oregonians who need it,” said Janie Gullickson, co-chief petitioner of Measure 110.
It received 59% yes votes and 41% no votes, with roughly 1.9 million votes counted, according to unofficial partial results from the secretary of state.
Among those in support of the Oregon measure were the Oregon Nurses Association and the Oregon chapter of the American College of Physicians.
Two dozen district attorneys said the measure “recklessly decriminalizes possession of the most dangerous types of drugs (and) will lead to an increase in acceptability of dangerous drugs.”
Three other district attorneys backed the measure, including the one in Oregon’s most populous county, which includes Portland.
Also passing was Ballot Measure 109 that allows the manufacture and controlled, therapeutic use of psilocybin, commonly called magic mushrooms. It received 56% yes votes and 44% no votes, with roughly 1.9 million votes counted.