Tuesday, November 23, 2021
"Oregon Narcotics Decriminalization: Example or Outcast?"
The title of this post is the title of this new paper recently posted to SSRN and authored by Blake Gerstner, a recent graduate of The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law. (This paper is yet another in the on-going series of student papers supported by the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center.) Here is this latest paper's abstract:
In November 2020, the people of the State of Oregon spoke loudly and clearly by passing Ballot Measure 110, decriminalizing possession of small amounts of narcotics across the board, from cocaine to heroin to methamphetamine. As a state with a recent, large increase in overdose deaths, Oregon now stands at the forefront of the U.S. decriminalization effort, setting an example for, or becoming an outcast among, its sister states. While only time will tell the long-term implications of this pioneering initiative, such legislation has long been sought by doctors, care specialists, and legal professionals across the United States as a compassion-driven step toward reversing the consequences of a lost war on drugs. By focusing on ending the cycle of addiction among narcotic users, rather than penalizing and ostracizing those trapped in said cycle, its supporters have high hopes for greatly reducing drug addiction and overdose deaths, ending the mass incarceration of narcotics-addicted individuals, and terminating the illicit drug trade by refocusing attention on those who perpetuate the narcotics black market. From the criminal justice system, to mental health and addiction support, and to broader sociological and political understandings, the effects of Oregon’s initiative will almost certainly be vast and far-reaching, likely changing forever how the U.S. government, its institutions, and its citizens view drug use and addiction.
We can begin to grasp the amplitude of Ballot Measure 110 by looking to Oregon’s specific drug problems and how the measure could solve them. The purpose of this article is to provide a bird’s-eye view of Oregon’s new model by exploring two interrelated topics. First, I provide an in-depth explanation of the Measure’s intent and purpose, analyzing its language, original objective, and subsequent developments to comprehend exactly what Oregonians voted for and what can be expected. Second, I offer a brief presentation of one Oregon-specific problem, methamphetamine addiction, and how the initiative could change meth use, enforcement, and criminalization. In doing so, I hope to expound upon potential future implications of the Oregon measure as a whole, with the hope of imparting some idea of decriminalization’s future in the Beaver State.