Last night Oregon voted to decriminalize the possession of all drugs, making it the first state to do so. Voters in Oregon also approved a measure to legalize the therapeutic use of psilocybin, the compound in psychedelic mushrooms that’s responsible for their consciousness-altering effects.
Nearly 59% of Oregon voters approved Measure 110, which decriminalizes all drugs in the state. Decriminalization is not the same as legalization, but is still a big deal. With Measure 110, possession of illegal drugs—including “harder” drugs like cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamines—will go from being a class A misdemeanor to a class E violation in Oregon, which would result in a $100 fine or health assessment rather than jail time. However, manufacturing or distributing illegal drugs could still result in jail time.
The measure also establishes the Drug Treatment and Recovery Services Fund, which will be funded by the state’s legal cannabis program and money saved by no longer pursuing criminal charges for these drug offenses. Proponents argue that the measure signals a significant shift in our approach to drug offenses—especially in providing help for people who need and want treatment—rather than incarcerating them.
“Today’s victory is a landmark declaration that the time has come to stop criminalizing people for drug use,” Kassandra Frederique, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, said in a statement. Drug Policy Action, the political advocacy arm of the Drug Policy Alliance, spearheaded the measure.
“Measure 110 is arguably the biggest blow to the war on drugs to date,” Frederique said. “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.”
People in Oregon also voted to approve Measure 109, which allows the state’s public health agency to set up a program for licensed therapists to administer psilocybin to patients age 21 and older. This compound has shown promise in managing specific forms of mental illness, such as end-of-life anxiety and depression in those with terminal illnesses.
Oregon’s decision to decriminalize all drugs is a historic one, and it could have a serious impact on those dealing with addiction in the state.