PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) - Oregon has become the first state to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of common street drugs.

Measure 110 is passing, with 59 percent of people voting yes and 41% of Oregonians voting no.

“I am blown away by the love and compassion that Oregonians have shown toward people who use drugs,” said Haven Wheelock.

Wheelock served as a chief petitioner for the campaign to vote yes on 110. She also runs the drug users health services at an organization that helps homeless youth in Portland. She says she believes this measure will save lives.

“It to me feels so hopeful that we are changing the tide on the war on drugs because we know it’s failed policy, and we know it’s disproportionately harming communities of color,” said Wheetlock.

Supporters of the measure say decriminalizing small amounts of drug possession will allow people to get the help they need, rather than criminalizing their addiction.

Supporters praise passing of measure to decriminalize drug possession

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“I wasn’t able to get jobs that I need to sustain a proper livability lifestyle, and there was no way to turn my life around. In and out of jail all the time,” said Hubert Mathews, a recovered addict.

Mathews says he spent years battling an addiction to cocaine. But, he eventually got treatment and now spends his time doing outreach to help addicts find recovery.

“We need to change the ways we approach addiction and get people to where they can live in our society,” he said.

He says a measure like 110 would have saved him from a life in the criminal justice system.

“I’d probably have been able to get the treatment way sooner than I did,” said Mathews.

Supporters of the measure say it will establish and appoint addiction recovery centers, increase the amount of services, decriminalize drug possession, and establish oversight and accountability. According to the measure, it will be partially funded by marijuana taxes, as well as the money saved from law enforcement not performing some drug arrests.

“This is one big piece, and it’s not going to do everything. We’re not done rebuilding the system, like, this is a huge first step, and there is still plenty of work that will need to be done in order to really create the system of care that people deserve,” said Wheelock.

The first effects of the measure take place in February 2021, when the decriminalization provision takes effect.

Opponents of Measure 110 say they are disappointed it passed but say they will work with supporters to make sure the measure is implemented correctly and safely.

Copyright 2020 KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.

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(5) comments

ItsPolitical

So, your doctor or child's teacher can now use heroin, meth or cocaine, pay a measly $100 fine or chat with a counselor and be back at work the next day. Think about this. Are Oregonians TRULY so obtuse?

Toothache

Portland is the cesspool of the northwest. The only sure way to fix it is to destroy it and start over.

Worst PDX Mayor Ever

Lovely, but what happens when you put out bird feeders? You get seed all over the ground, and it attracts rats. That's what you're going to get in Oregon now. Even MORE tent druggies are going to migrate here. Has anyone been driving up and down I-5 lately and seen the homeless camps between North Portland and the Interstate Bridge? it's disgusting, and most of those who are homeless are drug addicts. Now, because you decriminalize it, there will be even MORE drug addicts coming here, which means there will be every MORE property crime, and worse. Sure, so let's also defund the police while were at it. If I were a cop right now, I'd be looking for a job in a red state, where life makes a lot more sense. This is just absurd what's happening here. Oregon used to be it's own, independent state, and it was a cool place to live. Not any more. Now Portland has become nothing less than San Francisco's mini-me.

Charlatan

So you want to continue to pay to house people in jails and prisons for daring to decide what to put into THEIR OWN body? If someone wants to ruin their life by living it out of a spoon and needle, that's their right. It literally affects me in no way at all.

commentor

You are absolutely correct about property crime skyrocketing because of this ill thought out measure passing. Might as well put out a gigantic billboard that says 'Welcome all druggies, derelicts, and bums. Feel free to break whatever laws you desire here because you will not be held responsible.'

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