In what justice advocates celebrated as a major shift away from the devastating and failed policies of the nation’s so-called “war on drugs,” Oregon on Monday officially became the first state to decriminalize possession of small amounts of all drugs with a new policy that also aims to boost access various related services.
“For the first time in at least half a century, one place in the United States—Oregon—will show us that we can give people help without punishing them.”
—Kassandra Frederique, Drug Policy Alliance
Oregon voters passed Measure 110, also called the Drug Addiction Treatment and Recovery Act, by a 17% margin in November. The ballot initiative was spearheaded by Drug Policy Action—the advocacy arm of Drug Policy Alliance—in partnership with Oregon groups and supported by over 100 local, state, and national organizations.
“Today, the first domino of our cruel and inhumane war on drugs has fallen—setting off what we expect to be a cascade of other efforts centering health over criminalization,” said Drug Policy Alliance executive director Kassandra Frederique in a statement Monday. “For the first time in at least half a century, one place in the United States—Oregon—will show us that we can give people help without punishing them.”