Oregonians voted in favour of measures to legalise the personal possession of hard drugs like cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, LSD, oxycodone and others.
Oregon has become the first state in the US to decriminalise personal possession of hard drugs such as cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, LSD, oxycodone and others.
Executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, Kassandra Frederique, said: “today’s victory is a landmark declaration that the time has come to stop criminalising people for drug use.”
People voted for the legalisation of the possession of drugs - Measure 110 - at the same time as they had their say in the presidential election.
Measure 110 was passed by a wide margin, 58.8 percent against 41.2 percent, according to unofficial returns updated on Thursday.
The measure will reclassify the possession of small amounts of hard drugs as a civil violation, just like a traffic offence.
Instead of going to trial and facing possible jail time, people will pay a $100 fine or attend new “addiction recovery centres” funded by millions of dollars of tax revenue from Oregon’s legalised, regulated marijuana industry.
Frederique also said: “Measure 110 is arguably the biggest blow to the war on drugs to date.”
However, the manufacturing and sale of the drugs will remain illegal. The measure will come into effect on February 1, 2021. However, the addiction recovery centres must be available by October 1.
Oregon is the first state to decriminalise marijuana possession, by legalising it in 1973, a pioneer in America in trying the same with hard drugs.
It may sound like a radical concept, but the initiative’s backers said making criminals out of drug users — locking them up and burdening them with criminal records that made it difficult to find housing and jobs — was not working.
The Oregon Nurses Association, the Oregon Chapter American College of Physicians and the Oregon Academy of Family Physicians had said in support of the measure. “We urgently need a change to save families and save lives,” they wrote.
Two Oregonians die every day from overdoses as one in 11 people is addicted within the state.
Arizona, New Jersey, Montana and South Dakota also legalised the use of marijuana in the referendums that were held simultaneously in the ballot box for the presidential election.
Thus, these states have joined 15 others and the Columbia district that has already decriminalised the use of the drug.
Portugal, the Netherlands and Switzerland have already done the same, legalising the possession of small amounts of hard drugs by choosing “harm reduction programs.”