Oregon Becomes First US State To Decriminalise Possession Of Hard Drugs
Measure 110 was passed by a large margin on Tuesday, meaning the possession of a small quantity of drugs - such as heroin, cocaine and LSD - will be reclassified as a civil violation, similar to a traffic offence.
People caught with drugs will face a $100 (£77) fine, however, they can avoid paying by agreeing to a health assessment.
The hope is that this new approach will decrease the risk of people getting trapped in a vicious cycle of incarceration, while increasing the possibility of recovery from addiction.
Kassandra Frederique, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, said: "Today's victory is a landmark declaration that the time has come to stop criminalising people for drug use.
"Measure 110 is arguably the biggest blow to the war on drugs to date."
She continued: "Oregonians understand that we should be treating drug use as a health issue.
"It is a huge sledgehammer to the cornerstone of the war on drugs.
"We saw this with marijuana, the domino effect. We are hoping that as the country is having conversations about how to use our resources, how to deal with our loved ones, that Oregon will potentially lead the way."
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Haven Wheelock, a harm reduction specialist at non-profit health centre Outside In, echoed Kassandra's sentiment.
According to Oregon Public Broadcasting, she said: "It takes a lot of courage to try something new, and I'm really proud of our state.
"I'm excited to be a model for other places to show that we don't have to harm people for being sick."
Selling and manufacturing drugs in the state will remain illegal, and possession of larger amounts could result in misdemeanour charges.
If a person is found in possession of what is considered a commercial quantity of drugs, then this could still be charged as a felony.
The decriminalisation is due to take effect from 1 February.
As part of Measure 110, tax generated from the state's cannabis sales will be reallocated to fund addiction treatment. Savings made in the criminal justice system as a result of the measure may also be used to create a new fund for drug treatment.
In a separate measure, Oregon also voted to legalise psilocybin - aka magic mushrooms - for people aged 21 or older.
Measure 109 will allow licensed professionals to administer magic mushrooms at regulated treatment centres to help with depression, anxiety, and addiction.
Featured Image Credit: PA
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