Oregon has become the first US state to decriminalise possession of hard drugs, following a public referendum.
Following the implementation of Measure 110, people with small quantities of drugs including cocaine or heroin will escape prosecution, and may not even be fined.
Oregon already has some of America’s highest rates of substance use and mental health problems. Cannabis has been legal in the state since 2014.
Under the new provision, drug users found in possession of less than one gramme of heroin or two grammes of cocaine or methamphetamine will be subject to just a $100 (£77) fine.
If the offender receives a health assessment at an Addiction Recovery Centre within 45 days, the fine will be waived.
Prosecutors across Oregon described Measure 110 as both ‘dangerous’ and ‘reckless’.
A statement signed by over two-thirds of Oregon’s District Attorneys said: “Decriminalization will lead to an increase in acceptability of dangerous drugs, normalizing hazardous experimentation for our youth and increasing accessibility, surging supply and lowering costs of dangerous street drugs.”
lead to disastrous results
Meanwhile the Oregon District Attorney’s Association warned that “this measure will tie the hands of law enforcement and prosecutors everywhere and lead to disastrous results for our communities”.
On the same day Oregon changed the law on hard drugs, Arizona, Montana, New Jersey, and South Dakota all voted to legalise the recreational use of cannabis.