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  • Oregon Decriminalizes All Drugs | What It Means For Drug Arrests & Addiction Treatment

    I man arrested for drug possession

    On November 3, 2020, the state of Oregon became the first to decriminalize all drugs in a controversial measure passed by voters. 

    The goal of this change is to reduce the number of arrests associated with drug use, improve access to addiction treatment, and make it easier for people with addiction to improve their lives. 

    About The New Law

    Oregon’s new measure, which is known as “Measure 110,” prevents residents of Oregon from being arrested or incarcerated for possession of small amounts of drugs intended for personal use.

    Some examples of these drugs include:

    Although possessing these substances is still illegal, the maximum penalty has been reduced to a fine of $100, thus preventing these minor drug crimes from having such a severe impact on the offender’s future. 

    In addition, this measure also provides for the establishment of an addiction treatment program for the offender, which is to be funded partly by tax revenue related to the sale of marijuana.

    Public Support

    Although some people were against the passing of this measure because they feared taking away criminal consequences would encourage more drug use, more people supported the measure than not. 

    Support for the measure was based on the reasoning that providing better access to addiction treatment and eliminating severe consequences will make it easier for drug use offenders to recover, instead of getting caught in a cycle of drug use and arrests. 

    What It Means For Drug Arrests

    Before the passing of this measure, being arrested for possession of even a small amount of drugs in the state of Oregon could lead to dire consequences. Depending on your background and other factors, you may have spent time in jail, owed expensive fines, and more. 

    For many people, this led to ongoing financial problems related to mandatory fines and/or the loss of employment while incarcerated. In addition, because the crimes would appear on your criminal record, it would also be harder to get another job or find a place to live. 

    Decriminalization Vs. Legalization

    With this new measure in place, the consequences of being caught with drugs will not be as severe. Decriminalization means there won’t be criminal consequences for drug possessions, which includes arrests and jail time.

    Although no arrests will be made when someone is caught with a small amount of drugs, it’s important to note that you may still owe a fine. Possession of drugs is not legal in Oregon, but simply decriminalized. 

    Improving Addiction Treatment In Oregon

    One of the primary goals of this measure was to make it easier for people to access addiction treatment services in the state of Oregon. For someone struggling with a substance use disorder, professional addiction treatment is the most effective resource available to aid in recovery. 

    Unfortunately, the system in Oregon prior to the passing of this measure focused more on punishing people who were in possession of illegal drugs, as opposed to getting them the help they need. 

    However, with these changes, access to addiction treatment will be more widely available. 

    Eliminating Financial Consequences Of Drug Possession

    In many cases, people who had been charged with drug possession would spend money on legal representation and court fines. In addition, employment earnings were often lost because of court cases and time in jail. 

    These financial stresses make it difficult for people to afford the addiction treatment they need. 

    Removing Obstacles

    Spending time in jail and/or attending multiple court hearings make it even more difficult for someone with a substance use disorder to enroll in a treatment program. These obstacles have now been removed, paving the way for effective drug rehab. 

    New Rehab Program Options

    Part of the measure involves establishing a new addiction treatment program, making more spots available to people who need treatment for substance use disorders. 


    The establishment of the new addiction treatment program in Oregon will be funded in part by marijuana tax dollars, allowing the state to offer more affordable treatment options for people without the financial resources to pay for treatment on their own. 

    Thanks to this new measure, residents of Oregon struggling with substance use disorders will now find it easier to seek treatment for their conditions and make a full recovery. 

    If you or someone you love is in need of addiction treatment services, please contact Ark Behavioral Health today.

    Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
    ©2024 Ark National Holdings, LLC. | All Rights Reserved.
    This page does not provide medical advice.
    Medically Reviewed by
    Kimberly Langdon M.D.
    on August 22, 2022
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