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Oregon voters to decide on drug decriminalization this November

On Behalf of | Oct 22, 2020 | Criminal Defense |

Drug addiction in Oregon has risen to crisis level, with about one-tenth of Oregonians age 18 or older suffering from substance use disorder, per the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. It may have once been the case to throw the book at drug users and penalize their crimes harshly. However, these days some in Oregon are looking for ways to help those charged with drug crimes overcome their addiction, rather than simply penalizing them.

Measure 110 focuses on treating, rather than criminalizing, drug users

One measure Oregonians will get to vote on this November is Measure 110. Under this measure, if a person was charged with unlawful possession of a small amount of a controlled substance, they will be fined a mere $100 — a fine that could be waived if the person agrees to get treatment for their addiction.

This makes possession of a small amount of an illegal substance a civil infraction, not unlike a speeding ticket. However, possession of larger amounts of an illegal drug will be a misdemeanor and more serious crimes such as drug manufacturing or drug trafficking would be considered felonies.

Some favor Measure 110, some do not

Proponents of Measure 110 state that by decriminalizing the use of drugs will help users seek treatment. They also believe the measure will help people avoid a criminal record, simply because they were charged with a low-level drug crime.

Some opponents of Measure 110 believe the measure does not go far enough, and that it lacks the funding necessary to expand Oregon’s treatment capacity. They state that the measure does not contain the flexibility necessary to funnel grant money to communities in the state who need it most.

Unless Measure 110 passes, current law still stands

Measure 110 is just that — a measure, and until voters cast their ballots, current law on drug possession still stands. Thus, those who are charged with drug possession and are concerned about the consequences they face and how these charges will affect their future may want to seek legal advice.