Drug decriminalization in Oregon could be a step toward better public health

The Verge


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A few weeks ago, Oregon voters passed Ballot Measure 110, the Drug Decriminalization and Addiction Treatment Initiative. The measure eliminates criminal penalties for the possession of small quantities of drugs such as heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine. It was one of several drug reform victories on Election Day, but Oregon’s decision is of particular interest to public health experts and recovery advocates, many of whom have pointed to decriminalization as a necessity for any widespread reduction of substance use disorders, drug-related diseases, and overdoses.

“Our drug laws are a major driver of health outcomes,” says Leo Beletsky, director of the Health in Justice Action Lab. Though existing drug laws are ostensibly about public...

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