Two “landmark bills,” House Bill 378, and House Bill 2355, were approved by the Oregon legislature last week and aim to lift some restrictions on illicit drugs. House Bill 378 “reduces drug-related property crimes from felonies to misdemeanors,” whereas House Bill 2355 “decriminalize[s] at least six drugs, as long as the person doesn’t have any prior felonies or more than two prior drug convictions. House Bill 378 passed 33-26 in the House, and 18-11 in the Senate. House Bill 2355 similarly passed 36-23 in the house, and 20-9 in the Senate. The bills will now move on to Governor Kate Brown for signature.
The bills would render Oregon the first state to decriminalize drugs like heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, and MDMA when the drugs appear in small scale, “personal” quantities, not to be mistaken with amounts intended for distribution.
While the bills do not advocate for recreational drug use, they do lessen the severity of the legal consequences for those without prior recorded drug charges, a step in the right direction for the legal landscape of drug use. The current legal system has been criticized for its criminalization of drugs, with many politicians noting that criminalization causes many with drug addiction or dependency issues to become continuously entangled in the criminal justice system when the label “felon” is applied to drug addicts or abusers.