Oregon becomes first state to decriminalize possession of hard drugs as 4 states legalize marijuana

The push to decriminalize drugs across the U.S. merged into a green wave to legalize marijuana on Election Day, with one even more notable development in Oregon.

Oregon became the first state to decriminalize small amounts of cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and other drugs on Election Day, according to New York Times’ Thomas Fuller. In South Dakota, Montana, Arizona and New Jersey, voters chose to legalize recreational marijuana. Mississippi also adopted an initiative to create a medical marijuana program for patients with debilitating conditions.

These Election Day results effectively mean cannabis is now legal across a broad swatch of western states, from Arizona to Montana.

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Due to Oregon measure 110, the possession of small amounts of harder drugs like heroin and cocaine will now amount to a violation, similar to a traffic ticket. It is no longer punishable by jail time. The Oregon measure passed by 60 percent of the vote and serves to help treat people with addictions rather than giving them jail time.

“This is the most significant reform in our nation’s failed drug policies in a generation,” The Executive Director of Drug Policy Alliance Kassandra Frederique told Washington Post’s Jaclyn Peiser.  “It’s particularly significant because most people don’t realize that drug possession is the number one arrest in the country.”

Alison Medley