For the First Time in History, State Moves To Decriminalize All Drugs – Even Heroin and Meth

By Rachel Blevins

In an unprecedented move, Oregon is on its way to becoming the first state to decriminalize small amounts of hard drugs such as heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, and ecstasy, while also lowering the penalty from a felony to a misdemeanor in some drug-related cases.

Two groundbreaking bills were passed by the Oregon legislature this week, and will go to the state’s Democratic governor, Kate Brown, for approval. House Bill 3078 reduces drug-related property crimes from felonies to misdemeanors. It passed in the state House with a vote of 33-26, and in the Senate with a vote of 18-11.

House Bill 2355 seeks to decriminalize at least six hard drugs, as long as the user does not have any prior felonies or more than two prior drug convictions. It passed in the state House with a vote of 36-23, and in the Senate with a vote of 20-9.

Rep. Mitch Greenlick (D-Portland) told the Lund Report that he sees the criminalization of drugs as a major public policy failure, because it ignores the fact that addiction to certain drugs changes the physical structure of the brain, and should be treated as a health problem—as opposed to the current system, which labels users as felons, and sentences them to a life of rebounding in and out of the criminal justice system.

“We’ve got to treat people, not put them in prison,” Greenlick said. “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.”

Both bills were supported by Sen. Jackie Winters (R-Salem), the longest-serving African-American woman in Oregon Senate history. During the Senate hearing, she silenced critics by referring to the current War on Drugs as “institutional racism.” The Lund Report noted that in addition to pushing for decriminalization, Winters has been fighting to decrease the prison population since 2011.

“There is empirical evidence that there are certain things that follow race. … We don’t like to look at the disparity in our prison system,” Winters said. “It is institutional racism. … We can pretend it doesn’t exist, but it does.”

HR 2355 also seeks to cut down on racial profiling among police. As the Portland Tribune reported, police would be required “to collect data on race and other demographic information during law enforcement stops,” and the Criminal Justice Commission would then “have the responsibility to analyze the data to identify any trends showing officers have singled out people with specific qualities such as the color of their skin.”

While law enforcement has worked to derail attempts to reform prison sentencing in the past, HR 3078 includes a provision that tasks the Criminal Justice Commission with providing local jurisdictions with $7 million for diversion programs. The bill would also reduce some mandatory minimum sentences for property crimes, and increase the number of prior convictions necessary for a felony offense.

Rep. Jodi Hack (R-Salem) was one of the few Republicans to support HR 3078, and she told the Lund Report that she has received threats as a result. However, she noted that the opportunity to keep families together, and to send drug users to a diversion program for help, instead of prison, was what anchored her support.

“We are putting addicts and nonviolent offenders into prison,” Hack said. “We in the U.S. are 5 percent of the world’s population, but 20 percent of the prison population.”

Oregon became the first state to decriminalize small amounts of cannabis in 1973, before becoming one of the first states to legalize it for medicinal use in 1998, and then finally legalizing recreational use in 2015. This raises the question—if Oregon decriminalizes small amounts of drugs such as heroin, cocaine and ecstasy, will other states follow suit?

The push for ending the failed “War on Drugs” appears to be gaining traction, as the most popular medical journal in the United Kingdom, the British Medical Journal, argued in November 2016 that “laws against drug use have harmed people across the world, while stressing that drug addiction should be viewed as a health problem and police involvement must end.”

As The Free Thought Project reported last week, the United Nations is now calling for the worldwide decriminalization of drug use and possession. A statement from the World Health Organization called for “ending discrimination in health care settings,” as well as various “marginalized and stigmatized populations.”

An example of the power of decriminalization can be found in Portugal, a country that decriminalized all drugs in 2001. As a result, drugs usage rates have declined, and there are now approximately three drug overdose deaths for every 1 million citizens.

Rachel Blevins is a Texas-based journalist who aspires to break the left/right paradigm in media and politics by pursuing truth and questioning existing narratives. This article first appeared at The Free Thought Project.

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24 Comments on "For the First Time in History, State Moves To Decriminalize All Drugs – Even Heroin and Meth"

  1. Proof you can’t fix stupid. And stupid has made it’s way to our esteemed leaders. The diabetic didn’t willfully light the pipe or insert the needle or snort the powder that made them sick and sociopathic. And I’ve never heard tell of a diabetic stealing from family and neighbors to get their insulin fix.

    • Not all drug addicts choose being drug addicts either. Someone might get prescribed a medication that is useful treatment but yet has an unknown weighted risk of being addictive for them specifically. You might be capable to eat two slices of apple pie and walk away. I might not be able to eat even one slice without needing to devour two pies. Any kind of _ hunger _ as such for human beings, remember we’re animals as well, is highly subjective for each individual.

      I will grant you that yes, a goodly number of addicts do engage in choosing to be. Please do consider though, not all do so. I find more and more we cannot afford painting with such widely stroked brushes. Simply because my dad is/was a Marine and now I’ve learned acts inappropriately around minors, does not infer all Marines do so. The same is the case with addiction. Not all addicts choose being addicts.

      Stupid lies in an inability to comprehend this subtly, allowing for human dignity and grace. I’m sure you may likely have heard the expression; “don’t throw the babe out with the bath water”.

      • Having just gone through two years of hell because of my sons drug abuse. Which began with him getting his BS medical pot card from a BS “clinic” for a back condition he did not have. And ending with him and his “friends” stealing and fraudulently cashing checks from his grandmother to buy meth. My sympathy towards those who choose to abuse street drugs is about nil. If he hadn’t been caught and subsequently threatened with jail time for his felony he would never have finally accepted the family’s offer to go to out of state rehab. Which I pray sticks.

        Reducing the charge for violating the law just because someone is compromised is a slippery slope that will simply enable abusers to continue to destroy their families and their lives. Do they need help? Absolutely. But without consequences, like losing their freedom for committing a crime, there is little in the world powerful enough to overcome their high.

        Don’t confuse sympathy with love..they are not the same.

    • Oregon is shifting into dangerous territory. This combined with the OR senate passing a bill to allow patients with dementia to be starved to death against their will is an ominous sign.

  2. This is so sick! Such are the evils of vicious ZNWO; where Evil=Good; and Lucifer=God!

    Any drugs especially the harmful hard drugs, should not be normalized and should still be criminalized but in various ways, especially the drug-traffickers should be sent to jail with heavy punishment; whilst the drug addicts should be sent to Rahabilitation centres.

    Look at the harmful but normalized cigarette or alcohol addiction; imagine if the drugs are normalized, where many will be brainwashed, including children, to think of the drugs as if a necessity, that one cannot live without.

  3. So North American Union is now following example played by Portugal European Union on its Drug Laws. I know where I am going on Holiday.

  4. Technically, they certainly have the right given that we never gave the fed govt authority in this area. However, if we actually voted on an amendment, it might pass and then this couldn’t happen again. But the people get to choose, not some federal agency.

  5. Slowly we seemed to be waking up to the drug policies Portugal has had on the books for years. Drug use is not criminal. The selling of drugs IS.

  6. The Dems are destroying everything in this country. Why does anyone listen to them anymore? The states out West and in the Northwest are overrun by illegals and drug traffickers. If the idiot Dems running those states want to endanger all constituents, let them do it. The next time someone is murdered or overdosed, it could be THEIR family member. Maybe then these fools seeking votes only will awaken to the real world.

  7. Illicit drug abuse needs to be treated as a health issue not a criminal issue. Incarceration of addicts has done nothing to help the addicted individuals or society as a whole and is the fruition of the establishment’s failed War on Drugs. It doesn’t act as a deterrent and only causes the drugs to become more expensive which benefits the dealers and ultimately the establishment who have facilitated their production. It’s time for a new approach to be implemented with the root causes of addictive behavior identified and a more humane answer than prison time. Most addicts have grown up in abusive, dysfunctional families and resort to illicit drugs to help them deal with the various issues that plague them. Becoming a drug addict is not a path most emotionally stable individuals would choose and to punish people for their maladaptive response is both draconian and reprehensible.

  8. Methamphetamine is already decriminalized since it is what is called Ritalin and used to treat ADHD until it quits working when the child addict is dumped on the street to find his next fix.

  9. Time to read Chasing the Scream

  10. Gee, I wonder who’s going to pay for all this wonderful addiction healthcare? The addicts? Or you & me?

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