PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt in Portland says he isn’t waiting until February to implement a policy that will decriminalize possession of all drugs in personal use amounts.
Schmidt’s office issued a press release on Thursday, saying it will immediately start treating drug possession cases exempt from prosecution under Measure 110 as a public health matter, rather than a criminal one. Oregonians passed the measure in November.
Schmidt said it’s time to expand access to treatment and focus limited law enforcement resources on high-level, commercial drug offenses. The district attorney cited overwhelming support for Measure 110, with over 74% of Multnomah County voters approving it, as reason for his early adoption.
“The passage of Ballot Measure 110 sends a clear message of strong public support that drug use should be treated as a public health matter rather than a criminal justice matter,” Schmidt said. “Past punitive drug policies and laws resulted in over-policing of diverse communities, heavy reliance on correctional facilities and a failure to promote public safety and health. It’s time to move beyond these failed practices, expand access to treatment and focus our limited law enforcement resources to target high-level, commercial drug offenses.”
Criminal drug offenses will still be prosecuted as a felony crime, according to the DA’s office. The ballot measure does not decriminalize the manufacturing, selling nor the possession of large quantities of drugs.
KOIN 6 news contributed to this Associated Press report.