Oregon Becomes First US State to Decriminalize Drug Possession and Legalize Psilocybin Therapy
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In a historic US first, Oregon voters have approved a ballot measure that will decriminalize the personal possession of all currently illegal drugs, including cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine.
Under the new measure, possession of small amounts of drugs will be reclassified as a civil violation, which would incur either a $100 fine or a mandatory health assessment. Selling and manufacturing drugs will remain illegal.
Voters also approved a separate measure to legalize psilocybin mushrooms for use during therapy.
Both proposals were put to state voters alongside the presidential election ballot.
The measure to decriminalize drug possession, titled Measure 110, proposed that millions of dollars from Oregon’s cannabis tax revenue could be reallocated to fund health assessments, addiction treatment, and harm-reduction efforts for people with addiction disorders.
Now that it has been approved by voters, this decriminalization policy is set to take effect from February 1, 2021.
The policy is also expected to lead to savings in the criminal justice system, due to fewer drug arrests and incarcerations. Under the new measure, these savings will be redirected into a new state fund for treatment and other services.
A new council, the Oversight and Accountability Council, will be created to oversee these policies. As per the wording of Measure 110, this council must ensure that all the drug treatment centers are operational by October 1, 2021.
Drug Policy Alliance, a New York-based advocacy organization, wrote the measure and spent more than $4 million on the campaign.
“Oregon made history tonight by becoming the first state to decriminalize drug possession!” the group wrote on social media. “This victory is truly transformative.”
Joining the decriminalization proposal on the ballot was Measure 109, which would legalize the manufacture and therapeutic use of psilocybin mushrooms.
Just like Measure 110, Measure 109 passed with a large majority, according to the Associated Press.
The Oregon Health Authority will now begin a two-year development period to implement regulations for the licensing, production, and possession of psilocybin.