Oregon Just Decriminalized All Drugs – Is Canada Next?

Oregon Just Decriminalized All Drugs - Is Canada Next?

Just a couple of weeks ago Oregon decriminalized all drugs as the Drug Decriminalization and Addiction Treatment Initiative was approved. Otherwise known as Measure 110, the change reclassified personal and non-commercial drug possession charges. Under the measure, drugs ranging from Schedule I to Schedule IV have been reclassified from a Class A misdemeanor to a Class E violation. The class E violation will be accompanied by a $100 fine or a completed health assessment.

The goal of measure 110 is to change the stigma surrounding drug addiction and to favor rehabilitation over incarceration. Individuals who manufacture, distribute, or possess large quantities of the drugs will still be subject to criminal penalties. The new measure also aims to generate funding for the Drug Treatment and Recovery Services Fund, which will be established along with the other changes. It will receive funds from the Oregon Marijuana Account as well as state revenue in excess of $11.25 million to be transferred every quarter. Additionally, it will receive funds from savings from the reduction in arrests and incarcerations. The funds will be allocated through grants and to the government or community-run organizations to create addiction recovery centers.

Decriminalization has been a fairly hot topic for a number of years now, as the current method of incarcerating addicts simply does not work. Portugal is a great example of positive changes that decriminalization could bring in place. With the 2001 decriminalization bill, the user was now regarded as a patient instead of a criminal. Experts theorized that decriminalization would increase the percentage of drug users in the country, but their predictions were incorrect. A study of the effects on Portugal revealed that there were reductions in problematic drug use, drug-related harms, and criminal justice overcrowding. The primary effect of decriminalization was reducing the burden and cost in the criminal justice system.

On November 18th, Vancouver mayor Kennedy Stewart made an announcement proposing the decriminalization of all drugs. He announced his intentions to propose this motion to decriminalize all drugs to the City Council at the next meeting. If the motion is passed, the city will seek an exemption from Section 56 of the Federal Controlled Drugs and Substances Act; which would make Vancouver the first Canadian City to decriminalize.

Do you think Canada is ready to decriminalize? Let us know in the comments below. 

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