Oregon becomes first state to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of hard drugs


Four states voted to legalize marijuana in Tuesday’s national election, while Oregon became the first state to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of hard drugs, according to the Guardian. 

Voters in Arizona, Montana, New Jersey and South Dakota passed state ballot measures to legalize recreational cannabis use. 11 other states and the District of Columbia have already legalized cannabis use for adults. Oregon passed the first state law in the US to decriminalize the possession of hard drugs, including heroin, cocaine, and LSD. The measure backed by criminal justice reform groups is aimed at diverting people from jails and prisons by treating possession as a citation and expanding access to treatment and recovery.

Arizona’s measure legalizes possession of up to an ounce of marijuana for adults and sets up a licensing system for retail sales, which could start in March. The state already has medical-marijuana dispensaries in operation. Montana’s measure calls for sales to begin in January 2022. South Dakota voters approved proposals to legalize both medical and recreational marijuana, a major shift after the state overwhelmingly rejected a medical pot measure four years ago.

The Oregon drug initiative will allow people arrested with small amounts of hard drugs to avoid going to trial, and possible jail time, by paying a $100 fine and attending an addiction recovery program. The treatment centers will be funded by revenues from legalized marijuana, which was approved in Oregon several years ago. “Today’s victory is a landmark declaration that the time has come to stop criminalizing people for drug use,” said Kassandra Frederique, the executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, which backed the measure. Oregon voters also approved a measure making it the first state to legalize the therapeutic use of psychedelic mushrooms.


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