Oregon Becomes First State To Decriminalize All Drugs

2020 has spawned a number of firsts and unparalleled events. Keeping in step with that trend, the State of Oregon is moving forward with another unprecedented action. In what’s being hailed as a key step in dismantling the war on drugs, Oregon voters approved a measure in early November to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of narcotics. Known as Measure 110, this initiative was approved by 58% of voters. While possessing large quantities of drugs still remains illegal, smaller personal quantities will be punishable with merely a citation akin to receiving a traffic ticket.

The First Of Its Kind

While a number of countries throughout the world have taken the uncommon step of decriminalizing drug possession, Oregon is the first U.S. state to do so. The voter-approved measure was billed as an alternative approach to the war on drugs which has largely been viewed as an abject failure. Lawmakers and voters alike have pointed to a treatment and public health model as a new approach to the drug epidemic that has swept through the nation in recent years. Notably, the measure also seeks to shift the criminal justice system’s response towards drug possession and addiction. By eliminating criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of drugs, the measure looks to address the root causes of addiction and to change the narrative surrounding the negative stigma associated with treatment and recovery. Proponents of the measure believe that treatment and recovery is only hampered by adding in the often long-lasting and potentially counterproductive effects of a criminal conviction.


There is a consensuses that there needs to be a change in how our society handles drug addiction, but there are different schools of thought on how to accomplish this. Many believe that this change needs to move people experiencing addiction out of the criminal justice system and into the health care sphere. Opponents of Measure 110 do not believe that the health care and drug treatment community is prepared to handle the demands of this new approach. They argue that the measure will overwhelm existing health care and treatment resources and will impair an established, effective pathway toward treatment. Without a vast expansion of treatment and healthcare programs, critics suggest that the new measure is premature.

Marijuana Tax Revenue Being Used To Fund Treatment

In response to some of the criticism surrounding the measure, lawmakers have directed that the funding for drug treatment is to be taken specifically from the revenue generated in the state from legal marijuana sales. Roughly $100 million generated from the marijuana tax will be used to fund more beds, housing, and pathways to drug treatment. And with marijuana tax revenue experiencing year over year growth, it is anticipated that even more funding will be available as sales continue to climb.

Measure 110 does not take effect until February 2021, so implementation remains an ongoing process. Lawmakers are hopeful that Measure 110 will not only change the conversation surrounding addiction but will also benefit the state as a whole. As Oregon embarks on an uncharted journey, other states are watching in hopes that they too can implement this model if successful.

Aaron Pelley

Disclaimer: The contents of this blog is considered an advertisement under CA law. The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only, and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information contained in this post should be construed as legal advice from Cultiva Law, PLLC or the individual author, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information included in, or accessible through, this Post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.

Contact Us For A Consultation

Call (888) 896-3313 or fill out the form below: