Oregon Legislature Just Voted To Decriminalize Most Drugs
Oregon, back in 1973, was the very first state to decriminalize small amounts of cannabis. State voters legalized medical marijuana in 1998, and recreational use in 2015. Now Oregon is moving towards becoming the first state to decriminalize personal use amounts of such drugs as heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, and ecstasy (MDMA). Another bill would lower the penalty for some drug-related property crimes from a felony to a misdemeanor. These two landmark bills were approved by the Oregon Legislature last week and will go to Democratic Gov. Kate Brown for her signature according to The Free Thought Project.
House Bill 378 reduces drug-related property crimes from felonies to misdemeanors. It passed 33-26 in the House and 18-11 in the Senate.House Bill 2355 would decriminalize at least six drugs, as long as the person doesn’t have any prior felonies or more than two prior drug convictions. It passed the House 36-23 and the Senate 20-9.
The criminalization of drugs is a major public policy failure, according to Rep. Mitch Greenlick (D-Portland). Rep. Greenlick said prohibition ignores the fact that addiction to some drugs changes the physical structure of the brain, and should be treated as a health problem. The current system, he states, labels users as felons, and relegates them to a life of bouncing in and out of the criminal justice system, according to The Lund Report
Although some people are not too happy they have included drugs such as meth in the bill but not mushrooms or LSD. “What about DMT, mushrooms and LSD? They decriminalized meth and heroin before these lmfao?”
Another Facebooker commented that “Decriminalization does not mean legalization. This is not a “bad” or “crazy” thing. All that this means is that the prison system will no longer be overpopulated with people who commit these “drug crimes”. This means police can focus more on people who commit more serious crimes while at the same time, the people who are caught using or with these drugs can get the help that they need to stop. This could be great.”
Sen. Jackie Winters (R-Salem), the longest-serving African-American woman in Oregon Senate history, supported both bills. During the Senate hearing, Winters silenced critics by referring to the War On Drugs as “institutional racism.”
The bill would also reduce some mandatory minimum sentences for property crimes, and increase the number of prior convictions necessary for an upgrade of charges to a felony.
One of the few Republicans to support HB 3078 said she had received threats as a result. But she noted that keeping families together, and sending drug users to a diversion program for help instead of imprisonment, was what solidified her support.
We are putting addicts and nonviolent offenders into prison. We in the U.S. are 5 percent of the world’s population, but 20 percent of the prison population.
Will other states follow suit on the decriminalization of small amounts of heroin, cocaine, and ecstasy, the way they did on marijuana? Also, will marijuana supporters stand for other drugs being legalized? The alternative could be the bloody, expensive War On Drugs where the government makes no tax revenue from the dealers.
Perhaps there are many winners and losers of drug legalization but looking at the bigger picture many small businesses can also benefit along with the government and people not going to prison.
The United Nations has been calling for the worldwide decriminalization of drug use and possession, much as Portugal did back in 2001. This could actually happen folks. Thoughts?