In a press release sent Monday the Oregon Association of Police Chiefs and the Oregon State Sheriff’s Association have jointly called for the personal possession of all drugs to be defelonized. This would mean that if a person is in possession of an illegal substance, as long as it’s not for distribution purposes, it would no longer be a felony charge, instead being reduced to a misdemeanor, a much lower penalty that carries a maximum prison sentence of one year, compared to a maximum sentence of 10 years.
The two organizations are calling for this change in part because felony drug charges “include unintended and collateral consequences including barriers to housing and employment and a disparate impact on minority communities.” They say that elected officials and prosecutors should craft “a more thoughtful approach to drug possession when it is the only crime committed”.
The two groups are calling for those caught possessing illegal drugs to be offered treatment as a replacement for incarceration.
In Oregon does defelonize drug possession they would be following in the footsteps of California; in 2014 voters in that state approved an initiative to defelonize personal drug possession, as well as other nonviolent crimes such as petty theft and check fraud.