Last night’s election was dominated, at least in the coverage, by the matchup between incumbent Republican President Donald Trump and his Democratic challenger, former Vice President Joe Biden…and rightly so. This was the sort of bitter and heated contest that was made for the mainstream media, and the pundits certainly took advantage of their time in the spotlight.
But there were other races and other down-ballot initiatives being voted on as well, including a number of instances where voters could directly enact new ordinances and regulations themselves. In several states, including New Jersey, recreational marijuana is now legal, for instance.
Out on the West Coast, however, voters decide to take some of these drug measures to the extreme.
Oregon made history Tuesday in the movement to reconsider the nation’s war on drugs by becoming the first state to decriminalize small amounts of heroin and other street drugs.
Voters overwhelmingly supported Measure 110, a coup for the New York-based Drug Policy Alliance, the same criminal justice reform group that backed Oregon’s successful marijuana legalization effort in 2014.
Near-final returns as of 10:20 a.m. Wednesday showed the measure winning overwhelmingly, 59% to 41%. Its margin of victory exceeded 350,000 votes.
What exactly does this mean?
The measure has three key components:– It reduces misdemeanor drug possession to a non–criminal violation on par with a traffic offense. People with small amounts of drugs including heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, ecstasy, LSD, psilocybin, methadone and oxycodone will get a ticket and face a $100 fine or have the option of being screened for a substance abuse disorder.– It reduces penalties for what are now felony drug possession cases, which involve larger quantities. Under Measure 110, most of those offenses will be misdemeanors.
– It funnels millions in marijuana tax revenue toward what it calls Addiction Recovery Centers, where people can be screened and directed to treatment options. Those tax dollars will also go to a Drug Treatment and Recovery Services Fund overseen by the state that could be used to pay for treatment, housing or other programs designed to address addiction.
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