Will Oregon be the first state to decriminalize all drugs?

www.salon.com
Date:
Sunday, Sep 29, 2019

The groundwork is being laid now for a possible effort to decriminalize the possession of drugs in Oregon. Last month, a trio of drug reform advocates quietly filed a decriminalization initiative, the Drug Addiction Treatment and Recovery Act, with state officials.

That is only the first step in the long and complicated process of getting the initiative on the November 2020 ballot and approved by voters, but it is a first step. Between now and then, the Oregon activists and national groups will be weighing whether success is actually possible and if a full-blown campaign to get it passed will happen.

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As is evident from the initiative’s title, it is not just about drug decriminalization, but also about coming up with better ways than drug-war-style policies to address drug misuse and addiction; it is a public health approach rather than a criminal justice approach to the problem.

And it is one that would use taxes derived from the legalization of marijuana to pay for drug treatment and other services for people with drug problems.

Decriminalize the possession of small amounts of all drugs. People caught with personal use amounts of any drugs, including heroin and cocaine, would be cited for a violation — not a felony or misdemeanor — and would be subject to no more than a $100 fine. Drug sales and manufacture would still be criminalized. Create Addiction Recovery Centers across the state to address “the acute needs of people who use drugs and assessing and addressing any on-going needs thorough intensive case management and linkage to care and services.” Those centers will offer health assessments for each client, as well as an individual intervention plan, intensive case management, and connection to services. Increase community access to care, including “Low barrier substance abuse disorder treatment,” peer support and recovery services, housing, and harm reduction interventions, such as naloxone and needle exchanges, as well as “stimulant-specific drug education and outreach.” Pay for it with a Drug Treatment and Recovery Services Fund and an Oregon Marijuana Account. The marijuana account, funded by marijuana tax and fee revenues, would be distinct from the state’s General Fund and would provide funding for the Drug Treatment and Recovery Services Fund, which would provide grants to government and nonprofit groups to provide such services. The fund could also receive monies appropriated by the legislature, as well as any savings from reduced criminal justice costs after decriminalization. Advertisement: Advertisement: Advertisement: Advertisement: MORE FROM Phillip Smith

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