Oregon Has Decriminalized All Drugs, In The Sense That Possession Of Any Illegal Drug Will Just Have A Fine Of $100 Or The Option To Get A Health Assessment; This Could Help Diminish The Opioid Crisis, Or Make It Worse Since Addicts Will Be Pushed Onto Rx Psych And Opioid Meds As 'Treatment'
On Election Day the State of Oregon voted to decriminalize all drugs via Measure 110, which is something that has never been done before in the United States, and it is a drastic reversal from the decades long War on Drugs, a war which has catastrophically failed via causing the incarceration and deaths of millions of Americans, and a war which has done nothing to stop the drug problem, since overdose deaths are at record highs.
Due to Measure 110, Oregonians who are caught with a personal amount of illegal drugs, whether it be Cocaine, Meth, or Heroin, will no longer be arrested or sent to jail. Instead they will receive a $100 fine, and even if they don’t pay the fine they will just simply have their license suspended instead of facing jail time.
Further, Oregonians caught with illegal drugs can choose to undergo a ‘health assessment’ and pay no fine at all. Basically, Recovery and Addiction Centers will be set up to assess the mental and physical health of drug users, and from there presumably drug users will be put onto medication and put into programs with the goal of ending their drug addiction.
Overall, the decriminalization of drugs in Oregon certainly has the potential to help end the opioid crisis, especially since countries like Uruguay and Portugal which have decriminalized drugs have seen drug use plummet.
The basic theory is that arresting drug users leads to a vicious cycle where they are stuck in the court system and lose their income, leading to depression, despair, and more drug use, in addition to resorting to criminal activities to make a living since once someone is declared a felon it is very difficult to make an honest living, since almost no one gives jobs to felons.
Since drugs are now decriminalized in Oregon, this vicious cycle will perhaps end, since drug users will be offered treatment instead of their life getting ruined by incarceration.
However, where things get dicey is the fact that a main goal of Measure 110 is to divert all drug users into rehab programs, where they will undoubtedly be pumped full of psych meds, as well as synthetic opioids like Buprenorphine and Methadone. There is strong subjective evidence that this standard rehab strategy only makes the lives of drug addicts even worse, and leads to relapses.
Essentially, the synthetic opioids used to treat opioid dependence are just as addicting as street opioids, and do nothing to cure opioid dependence. As for psych meds, they often aggravate the mental illnesses that they are supposed to cure.
Therefore, Measure 110 is based around a solid premise, but where it could get messed up is the fact that prescription psych and opioid dependence medications will be pushed upon drug users in the ‘treatment’ programs. Indeed, in general this is one of the primary reasons that the drug war and opioid crisis continues to spiral out of control nationwide, since doctors and the government rely on prescription meds for addiction treatment, and these meds usually do not cure, or even help, addiction issues.
Zooming out, due to these complexities, it remains to be seen if decriminalizing drugs in Oregon will be a good thing or a bad thing, since it’s a mixed bag. However, it is certainly worth trying, since this strategy has worked in countries like Portugal and Uruguay.
On a final note, in an ideal world Oregonians who are caught with drugs would be given Kratom, or at least recommended to take Kratom, and that one-two punch of drug decriminalization and Kratom would likely be the ultimate solution for the drug war and the opioid crisis. Unfortunately, we live in a world where Big Pharma reigns, and due to that drug users in Oregon will be pushed onto unhelpful psych and opioid meds instead of Kratom.