Many people are in a daze over Oregon voters passing the first U.S. state law that decriminalizes small possessions of cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine.
As five more states decriminalized marijuana on Tuesday, Oregon followed a nationwide and international push to relax drug laws by passing the “Drug Addiction Treatment and Recovery Act” with 59% approval on Tuesday, the Associated Press reported. The measure moves away from a punitive approach for criminals to “a humane, cost-effective health approach.”
The qualifying decriminalized amounts will be less than 1 gram of heroin, less than 2 grams of cocaine or methamphetamine, less than 12 games of psilocybin mushrooms and fewer than 40 doses of LSD, oxycodone or methadone. Instead of a criminal penalty, fines of up to $100 will be assessed and eligible for wavier from a recovery center evaluation.
More than 100 health and civic rights organizations endorsed the bill, but several state district attorneys were opposed.
“People suffering from addiction are more effectively treated with health care services than with criminal punishments,” read the Oregon bill, which includes a health assessment to determine what services are needed for addicts.
The services will be funded by the state’s marijuana tax revenue, which creates $100 million annually in Oregon.
Portugal is used as an example after it decriminalized all drugs in 2001. A Cato Institute study showed no increase in drug use and a decrease in drug overdose deaths.
Oregon did not legalize drug use, but it might make residents more leery of the punishment for a traffic ticket.