On Tuesday, Oregon became the first state in the United States to decriminalize the possession of hard drugs and legalize the use of hallucinogenic mushrooms for therapeutic purposes.
The new laws were approved by public vote, as reported by BBC News. According to the current state law, people caught in possession of hard drugs, such as heroin and cocaine, face a maximum penalty of a $6,250 fine and up to twelve months behind bars. When the new laws take effect, anyone who is in possession of an amount small enough to be deemed “for personal use” will have to either pay a $100 fine or be assessed by a drug rehabilitation facility.
However, the new laws apply only to those carrying hard drugs for personal purposes. According to the new policy, anyone manufacturing or distributing hard drugs will still face criminal charges — misdemeanor or even felony charges, depending on the amount.
Measure 110, the name given to the new law, is set to go into effect on February 1, 2021.
The policy was supported by several medical associations as well as a New York group that advocates for addiction policy changes — the Drug Policy Alliance. The group is supported by major investors such as Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and George Soros.
“Oregonians understand that we should be treating drug use as a health issue,” said Drug Policy Alliance’s director Kassandra Frederique, responding to the decision.
The new policy will add extra funding for addiction services within the state. Part of the funding will come from tax money from the sale of marijuana, which has been legal since 2014.
One of the main arguments for the decriminalization of hard drugs is that the current laws are sending too many people who are considered non-violent offenders to prisons, resulting in excessive overcrowding.
The new measures were part of a nationwide attempt to relax drug laws, with states such as Arizona, South Dakota, New Jersey and Montana also passing a ballot to legalize cannabis. On a national level, the District of Columbia as well as 11 other states have already legalized the use of marijuana by adults for recreational purposes.
The Inquisitr reported that drug dealers all around the world took advantage of the coronavirus pandemic to use food delivery services as a cover-up to get their products to customers.