Legislation to defelonize the personal possession of several drugs has been passed through Oregon’s full legislature and sent to Governor Kate Brown for consideration.
The proposed law, House Bill 2355, “Reduces punishment for possession of certain controlled substances [including ecstasy, heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine] from felony to misdemeanor”. Possession would remain a felony if the defendant possesses a useable quantity of a controlled substance and one of four factors are in play: “1) The defendant has a prior felony conviction of any kind; 2) The defendant has two or more prior convictions for possessing a useable quantity of a controlled substance; 3) The offense is a commercial drug offense; or 4) The defendant possess more than specificed amount”.
The legislation also directs the Criminal Justice Commission to “study effect of reduction in possession penalties on criminal justice system, rates of recidivism and composition of convicted offenders”, and “Reduces maximum length of Class A misdemeanor offense to 364 days”, Under current law, possessing certain drugs can result in imprisonment of up to 10 years.
House Bill 2355 was approved by the House of Representatives on July 5th with a vote of 36 to 23, followed by a 20 to 9 vote in the Senate the next day. Governor Brown now has the option of signing it into law, vetoing it, or allowing it to become law without her signature.
If House Bill 2355, does become law, Oregon will joined just a handful of other states that have defelonized personal drug possession, including California.