With the decriminalization of all drugs in Oregon, “the consensus behind global prohibition is definitely fractured”

Volunteers bring drug decriminalization petitions to Salem, Ore., June 26, 2020.

“Substances and dependencies” section. The 2020 US elections will not only go down in the history books as those that took place in the midst of a pandemic, which saw record turnouts, or whose outgoing president refused to acknowledge the outcome. They will also remain those of a major turning point in the legislation on drugs in a country which, for fifty years, has advocated an ultra-repressive approach, known as the “war on drugs”.

Four more states – Arizona, Montana, New Jersey and South Dakota – have legalized recreational cannabis, bringing the number to fifteen. Now, a third of the adult American population can buy cannabis as freely as scratch cards or a pack of cigarettes.

In a referendum, on November 3, 58.4% of voters in Oregon approved the decriminalization of all drugs, whether cocaine, amphetamines, LSD or heroin, a first in the country. history of the country.

An individual found there in possession of drugs for personal use will no longer be de facto considered a criminal (possession of larger quantities will remain a crime). If he is arrested, he will have the choice between paying a fine of 100 dollars (84 euros), the criminal equivalent of a traffic violation, or accepting a health assessment that will determine if his consumption is problematic. He can then be followed in health centers, if he wishes.

“Awareness accelerated by the overdose epidemic”

It is a real paradigm shift that took place in Oregon on November 3: drugs, and the problems that can result from them, will no longer be dealt with in the criminal context but in that of public health. “It is even the biggest blow to date against the war on drugs, adds Matt Sutton, an official of the NGO Drug Policy Alliance, which campaigned for this measure in Oregon. This shows that the decriminalization of all drugs is politically viable. My hope is that after advocating the approach [ultra-répressive], which has been a total disaster for fifty years, the United States will be able to show that another way is possible. “

This vote is, according to him, in part the result of a shift in the perception that Americans have of drugs, and repression as the only response to its consumption:

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