Oregon is about to decriminalize meth, heroin and other hard drugs

With four decades and counting for the continued failure of the war on drugs, Oregon representatives hope to be among several states that have reduced punishments for possession of hard drugs such as cocaine, meth, heroin and other drugs.

In the near future, in an effort to also reduce racial profiling in the Beaver State, Oregonians who are caught with small amounts of these substances could be looking at no greater punishment than one might receive for a traffic infraction.

In Oregon, a 2016 study found African Americans are 5.6 times more likely to be incarcerated than whites, even though they make up less than 2 percent of Oregon’s population – while representing more than 9 percent of the people locked up in state prisons.

  • 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 “six drugs” listed in House Bill 2355 are methadone, oxycodone, heroin, MDMA, cocaine, and methamphetamines.

Oregon Capital Building in Salem, Oregon. (Photo by Danielle Denham)

In an emailed statement to Mic, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown called it “an important step towards creating a more equitable justice system to better serve all Oregonians.”

Rep. Mitch Greenlick (D-Portland) is on board with many drug education experts that feel addiction should be treated as a health problem, and drug addicts should not be treated as criminals.

“We’ve got to treat people, not put them in prison. It would  be like putting them in the state penitentiary for having diabetes. This is a chronic brain disorder and it needs to be treated this way.” – Greenlick

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  • Kendall Michelle Hogeland

    Wow Good Job Oregon! What does it matter if a white person, a black person, or a Hispanic Persons has drugs on them. No matter their Race, Character, or Religion Preference if you’re in possesion of drugs you should be punished in some way. Now i dont believe Jail is a way to clean someones act up. Only years of therapy and in patient recovery can provide the tools the addict needs to recover from their addiction. if You’re going to go as far as dicriminalizing such deadly drugs then i hope these persons with these drugs are mandated to an In-Patient or Out Patient treatment center or else what good is this really going to do but increase Deaths!

    • Angelo Diaz

      Just because one does drugs does not man that they should be mandated or in in-patient. Addiction is a bitch and with shit illegal it makes it harder and crime rises. Think about it this way, cigaretts not illegal but will kill us in a way and is a deadly addiction, alchohol not illegal either and that shit kills people and is also a deadly addiction think about everything we eat and we drink shit even over the counter drugs that gets proscribed to people are not safe THOSE KILL. So maybe you should think and try not fitting in with the world on drugs (:

    • taosk8r

      This seems to express the opinion that an addict who has no intention or interest in quitting can be compelled to do so with a mandatory treatment program. I find this hard to believe.

  • sylvie333

    Please include treatment for addiction as part of this plan. This is what Portugal did and now their jails are half empty and crime is way down, even drug abuse. Oregon could show us the way out of this mess!

  • Shannon Lorraine Hamilton

    great! more walking Zombies in and around town. now Oregon plans to decriminalize drugs so that we can enable more behavioral and addiction problems. this state can’t even get a grip on the homeless issue you think they are going to setup treatment plans for addiction. yeah right!!!

    • taosk8r

      You are clearly another person who is unfamiliar with the addiction statistics in other countries who have decrim laws. Perhaps it can be argued that there may be a temporary bump (ha), but in the long term this will decrease addiction rates. It is fact that they also are given better access to treatment options, and that needs to happen as a part of this, and I have faith that it eventually will.

  • Camey

    I do agree this is a mental illness. However, we have a new facility in Junction City that was up for closure not so long ago. Gratefully, it did not close.
    Knowing that jail may not be the answer for lots if these people.
    While they are being citited as a traffic violation…why not utlilze these facilities for evaluations and rehabilitation.

  • Jonathan Plaster

    Fuck this state.

  • Red47 Jesus in a Che Shirt

    THe inference is that black people will no longer be locked up because they are the ones doing the meth and heroin? I would love to see the stats supporting that.

  • littlefoot

    Agree no more war

  • Miller Sands

    To be fair then anyone who commits a felony that is also suffering from other diseases should not be punished but treated. “Yeah, I stole that car, but I have asthma so cut be a break”