According to the Washington Post, first-time offenders caught with heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine and other illegal drugs will have the ability to face less jail time and smaller fines. Sources say the bill was passed in efforts to curb mass incarceration and provide resources like drug treatment programs for people without prior felonies.
The Oregon legislature recently approved a bill that will reclassify possession of several drugs from a felony to a misdemeanor, reducing the punishments and expanding access to drug treatment for people without prior felonies or convictions for drug possession. Oregon lawmakers hope to encourage drug users to seek help rather than filling up the state’s prisons as an epidemic of abuse spreads.
The Washington Post reported that the bill also aims to reduce racial profiling through data collection and analysis in efforts to give police departments a better understanding when it comes to police procedures.
If signed into law, Oregon would be among several states that have reduced punishments for possession of small amounts of some illicit drugs, what some call the “decriminalization” of drug possession. Proponents say the bill marks a significant step toward addressing racial disparities in incarceration that developed as a result of the “war on drugs” approach to crime. Read more here.