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An Oregon bill that decriminalizes various illicit substances is now on Governor Kate Brown’s desk awaiting her signature.  The bill, House Bill 378, would reduce “drug-related property crimes from felonies to misdemeanors”.  Bill 378 is accompanied by House Bill 2355 that decriminalizes drugs such as MDMA, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, amongst others.

Supposedly these bills are aimed at treating drug-related issues as health concerns rather than criminal charges in order to move more people into treatment rather than prison for drug related crimes.  Getting drug abusers into treatment should be our first priority as a society.  However – wouldn’t decriminalizing drugs that are proven to be highly addictive and dangerous have adverse effects as well?

While buying drugs under this bill would still be illegal, the possession of “personal quantities” not intended for distribution would be permitted.  If Oregon takes a stance stating that these drugs are okay in “personal quantities”, no matter what their goal with that stance is, chances are increased numbers of youth will then try the drugs.  We’ve seen it across the country – as recreational marijuana has been legalized, the rates of people using the drug have gone up.  While marijuana supporters might tout that marijuana does not have adverse effects on it’s users, and that no one has ever died of a marijuana overdose, the same cannot be said about MDMA, cocaine, heroin, meth, etc.  Are we, as a society, willing to risk the lives of people who were not previously users of these illicit substances by approving bills such as this?  Or, rather, should we build out laws that, rather than providing prison time for drug abusers, provide drug treatment sentences in hopes of helping a user kick the habit?

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