Oregon Just Became the First State to Defelonize Hard Drugs

Reason no. 11 to love Portland right now.

NEEDLE PARK: Syringe needles are scattered throughout downtown Portland, like this one near the Broadway Bridge (above). But homeless people say the preferred drug on Portland streets isn’t heroin but methamphetamine, which can be smoked, eaten or injected. (Daniel Stindt)

Last June, Oregon's police chief and sheriff associations wrote an extraordinary letter to a state senator.

The idea they proposed was in many ways obvious. It was also unprecedented. They wanted Oregon to stop throwing people in prison for possessing small amounts of coke, heroin, oxy, Ecstasy, LSD or meth.

"Too often, individuals with addiction issues find their way to the doorstep of the criminal justice system," the letter read. "Unfortunately, felony convictions in these cases also include unintended and collateral consequences, including barriers to housing and employment and a disparate impact on minority communities."

Before this June, Oregon was prepared to punish a single rail of coke with five years in prison—a law that would imprison half the musicians, line cooks and software execs in town if it were evenly enforced. Which, of course, it wasn't.

With the full-throated support of law enforcement, House Bill 2355 passed in July 2017—and with it put an end to seven decades of a failed and punitive drug war in Oregon that seemed determined to treat a public health issue as a criminal one.

These drugs aren't truly decriminalized; they're still listed as class-A misdemeanors, same as a DUII or weapons charge. But Oregon has come further than any state in the country in doing away with the toxic paranoia that would theoretically ruin a teenager's life for crunching Molly at a rave.

2. TriMet Could Soon Stop Charging Life-Ruining Fines

3. You Can Now Smoke Weed While Listening to Live Classical Music

4. Oregon's Unemployment Rate is Incredibly Low

5. Your Favorite Sports Team is Only a Short Walk Away

6. The Blazers Star in Some Weird-Ass Commercials

7. We Now Have a Mountain Bike Park in the City

8. 24 hours after Chamber Music Northwest Burned Down, the Last Concert in the Series Went on as Planned

9. Portland is the Playground of Japanese Architect Kengo Kuma

10. You Can Soon Stream Local Music at the Library

11. Oregon Just Became the First State to Defelonize Hard Drugs

12. East Portland is Getting an Aerial Tree Walk

13. We're the World Capital of Canned Wine

14. Portland is a Hotbed of Small Bookstores

15. Unlike any Other City, We Have Multiple Niche Comedy Festivals

16. Our Developers Are Privatizing Socialism

17. The Nation's Best Airport Keeps Getting Even Better

18. We're Home to the World's First Sneaker Design School

19. Portland Scored the World's First Dog Tap Room

20Weed Prices are Falling From Cheap to Damn Near Free, and We Haven't Yet Found the Bottom

21. Our Local Mini-Mart Chain Makes Snickers Give You Free Candy Bars

22. The View From the MAX Orange Line is One of the Most Striking and Beautiful Paintings in the City 

23. We Are Still No. 1 in Semifactual Superlatives

24. We Make Biking So Accessible

25. You Can Crowdfund Anything Here

26. We Find So Many Ways to be Anti-Trump

27. Our Malls Are Becoming Cultural Embassies

28. Our Humane Society Rescues Pets From All Over the Country 

29. Winter This Year is a Pussycat

30. No One Mourns Closures Like We Do

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