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Oregon becomes first state to decriminalize possession of street drugs

The majority of Oregon voters supported Measure 110 which permits personal possession of small amounts of drugs including heroin, cocaine and ecstasy.

Street Drugs Getty Images/iStockphoto

As ballots in the presidential election continue to be counted, Oregon goes down in history as the first state to decriminalize possession of street drugs, The Oregonian reported.

Yesterday (Nov. 3), voters supported Measure 110 which won 59% of the votes.

Peter Zuckerman — Measure 110’s campaign manager — issued a statement informing fans that the win is only one step toward the bigger goal of criminal justice reform. “Today is a huge day of celebration, but the work is not over, and we have a lot more work to do to win a better system for everybody,” he said.

Measure 110 consists of three key parts. The first is to permit personal possession of small amounts of drugs including heroin, cocaine and ecstasy, and give those caught with drugs a ticket, a $100 fine and the offer to be screened for a substance abuse disorder.

It will also reduce penalties for those who possess larger amounts of drugs, and transfer money from the marijuana tax revenue to addiction recovery centers so people can have access to screenings, treatment options and other addiction-related programs.

Measure 110 is funded by Drug Policy Alliance, the criminal justice reform group that supported Oregon’s 2014 legalization of marijuana. The group spent over $4 million in signature gathering amid the decriminalization campaign and received monetary contributions from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan.

Supporters of the ballot have noted that the prison system is filled with Black nonviolent offenders who were incarcerated for carrying small amounts of drugs, arguing many of those people require treatment rather than jail time. Opponents, however, believe Oregon already offers alternatives to those convicted of drug possession.

This year’s election has proved to be a historical one marked with many firsts. As REVOLT previously reported, the first transgender state senator was elected and the first openly gay Black men were elected to Congress. New Jersey also voted for the legalization of marijuana.

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