A campaign group seeking to decriminalize most drugs in Oregon has gathered enough signatures to place the measure on the November ballot.

Initiative Petition 44 seeks to remove the prospect of jail time for possession of most drugs that are currently considered illegal. It also calls for a significant expansion of treatment and recovery services for drug addiction in the state.

Drug Policy Action, the campaign group behind the measure, wants the state to use marijuana tax revenue to fund this treatment.

Oregon legalized cannabis in 2014. The state initially projected that it would earn a maximum of $40 million per year in tax revenue from marijuana sales. However, it has already exceeded $100 million per year.

DPA expects that figure to increase by $20 million each year in future. It wants to see Oregon channel those funds towards expanding access to drug treatment and recovery services.

One chief petitioner for the measure, known as the Drug Addiction Treatment and Recovery Act of 2020, is Anthony Johnson. He was the executive director of Oregon’s successful campaign to legalize marijuana in 2014.

Another chief petitioner is Janie Gullickson. “Oregonians are dying every day because they can’t access treatment, and in the meantime if they are caught with drugs, they are criminalized, which only creates further barriers to accessing treatment and recovery – Oregon can do better,” she said.

The aim is to remove the prospect of jail time for low-level drug possession across the state. It would be considered a civil infraction, with a maximum fine of $100. This fine could be waived if the Oregonian in question were to undergo a health assessment at a substance misuse recovery centre.

A measure needs 112,020 needed to qualify for the November ballot in Oregon. DPA has now announced it has already collected 125,000 signatures, comfortably exceeding the target.

These signatures still need to be validated. DPA said it would continue gathering signatures until the deadline, just to be on the safe side.

The measure now looks likely to make it onto the November ballot, giving Oregonians a historic opportunity to enact major drug reform. ACLU Oregon, United Seniors of Oregon, Oregon Latino Health Coalition, Oregon State Council For Retired Citizens, Human Rights Watch, and Drug Policy Action are among the groups to endorse the measure.

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