Oregon Voters Approve Landmark Drug Policy Reforms

Oregon just voted to decriminalize all drugs and legalize medicinal psilocybin.
Oregon Voters Approve Landmark Drug Policy Reforms

Voters in Oregon made history on Tuesday with the passage of two landmark initiatives aimed at reversing the tide of the War on Drugs. Although votes remain to be counted, Measure 109, a proposal to legalize the therapeutic use of psilocybin, and Measure 110, which decriminalizes possession of all drugs, both appear to be headed for victory in this week’s general election.

Under Measure 110, criminal penalties would be eliminated for the possession of all drugs for personal use by adults, including cocaine, methamphetamine, and heroin. The initiative also greatly expands access to substance abuse treatment and other services without raising taxes. In addition to drug treatment, housing, harm reduction, peer support, and other services will be funded by existing marijuana taxes and savings realized through the elimination of arresting, prosecuting, and incarcerating people for low-level drug offenses.

“Today’s victory is a landmark declaration that the time has come to stop criminalizing people for drug use,” said Kassandra Frederique, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, a reform group that backed the ballot initiative. “Measure 110 is arguably the biggest blow to the war on drugs to date. It shifts the focus where it belongs—on people and public health—and removes one of the most common justifications for law enforcement to harass, arrest, prosecute, incarcerate, and deport people. As we saw with the domino effect of marijuana legalization, we expect this victory to inspire other states to enact their own drug decriminalization policies that prioritize health over punishment.”

The group noted in a press release that the passage of Measure 110 demonstrates that drug policy reform is a politically viable issue and will likely energize similar efforts in other states including California, Vermont, and Washington. 

“While drug decriminalization cannot fully repair our broken and oppressive criminal legal system or the harms of an unregulated drug market, shifting from absolute prohibition to drug decriminalization is a monumental step forward in this fight,” Frederique said. “It clears the path toward treating drug use as a health issue, restores individual liberty, removes one of the biggest underpinnings for police abuse, and substantially reduces government waste.” 

Psilocybin Therapy Also Legalized

Measure 109, an initiative to legalize psilocybin-assisted therapy, also appears to be headed to an election victory in Oregon. Research from leading institutions such as Johns Hopkins University and NYU has shown that psilocybin can be an effective treatment for depression, anxiety, and addiction. 

In a Facebook post from the Oregon Psilocybin Society, the group that campaigned for Measure 109, the chief petitioners for the initiative noted the significance of the success of both drug policy reform proposals.

“While the country seeks to rekindle the values that bind us, Oregon has taken the lead on progressive drug policy reform. Measure 110 toppled the first domino, spelling the beginning of the end of our nation’s disastrous 50-year Drug War,” wrote Tom and Sheri Eckert. “With Measure 109, we have planted the psychedelic flag, respecting the ancient traditions while blazing a trail into the future.”.

“While bringing deep healing to Oregon, Measure 109’s passage ends the most persistent taboo– the taboo surrounding ourselves, our inner realms, our freedom to safely explore our own consciousness,” they added. “Today, as a culture and as a state, we reevaluate the role of consciousness in our society. We recognize that our awareness of, and care for, the inner space of consciousness is essential to our survival.”

In addition to Oregon, voters in five other states and the nation’s capital approved drug policy reform ballot measures. Five states voted to legalize cannabis in some form, while Washington, D.C. decriminalized the possession of psilocybin mushrooms.

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