14:58 GMT25 November 2020
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    The US state of Oregon has become the first in the nation to decriminalize hard drugs following state residents’ approval of a new initiative that will reclassify the personal possession of cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, oxycodone and other hard drugs.

    Measure 110, which is set to go into effect 30 days following the Tuesday vote, reclassifies the possession of small amounts of heroin, cocaine, LSD, oxycodone, methamphetamine and other illicit substances as a Class E violation with a maximum $100 fine, according to the Associated Press.

    Those found to be in possession of such drugs will also be offered recovery treatment options instead of jail time.

    “Today’s victory is a landmark declaration that the time has come to stop criminalizing people for drug use,” remarked Kassandra Frederique, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance - the group behind Measure 110. “Measure 110 is arguably the biggest blow to the war on drugs to date.”

    The move also legalizes the therapeutic use of psilocybin, the compound present in “magic mushrooms.” Veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and terminally ill patients have voiced support for the legalization.

    Oregon also holds the title of the first US state to decriminalize marijuana, having done so in 1973.

    “This is such a big step in moving to a health-based approach instead of criminal punishment, and we’re devoting significant new resources to help Oregonians who need it,” Janie Gullickson, one of the chief petitioners for the measure, expressed to the outlet.

    According to Portland, Oregon, outlet KOIN 6, Gullickson speaks from a place of experience, as she was addicted to methamphetamine for 22 years.

    The Oregon Nurses Association, the Oregon Chapter American College of Physicians and the Oregon Academy of Family Physicians backed Measure 110 and noted in a news release that almost two people die every day from drug overdoses in the state, the AP reported.

    “We urgently need a change to save families and save lives,” they highlighted.

    The groups also noted that 1 in 11 Oregonians is addicted to drugs.

    According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “Oregon providers wrote 57.3 opioid prescriptions for every 100 persons in 2018, compared to the average US rate of 51.4 prescriptions.”

    At the same time, not everyone is behind the measure. Some believe it may result in additional state-wide issues.

    “Measure 110 is an idea that on the surface might sound appealing or compelling, but when you look into it, it’s a very dangerous measure,” Washington County District Attorney Kevin Barton told KOIN 6.

    Barton believes that recovery treatment should not be optional.


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