In an effort to shift toward a more just and treatment-focused way of handling drug addiction, Oregon voters passed Measure 110 which decriminalized certain levels of possession of heroin, meth, cocaine and other schedule drugs. Though critics are worried that the “stick” of jail time is necessary to get people into treatment, Measure 110 recognizes that the decision to get well is a personal one so people caught with small amounts of drugs will be given the option to engage in drug treatment in lieu of a fine but will no longer be subject to jail time. Money saved from incarceration costs will be funneled into treatment and other support services.

The new possession citations come with a fine, and therefore all the possible ramifications of not paying a ticket. On the other hand, Measure 110 allows for people to get their fine waived if they participate in a health assessment – even if they do not follow through with any recommended treatment. The hope is this will get the ball rolling for people who are ready to seek help.

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Criminal Possession

Of course, there are still circumstances under which possession is a criminal offense including:

  • possession of more than a specific statutorily defined amount (this amount differs depending on the drug)

  • possession as part of a commercial drug offense

In these cases, there are a number of legal concepts that come into play, including constitutional considerations such as the legality of a search and/or seizure. The answers to such questions may considerably limit the quantity and quality of evidence the State can introduce at trial which may improve the defendant’s chances of prevailing. This is one of the reasons it is important to have an attorney experienced in drug cases working on your case.

Charges Related to Marijuana

The passage of Measure 110 can be seen as another step along the path started by the legalization of marijuana in Oregon. Of course, that doesn’t mean there are not an array of marijuana-related crimes. Most common are things like illegal grows or extraction facilities. However, actions like sales to minors, smoking in public and not complying with licensing regulations are also punishable with jail or prison time.

Delivery Charges

Of course, dealing drugs is still a crime and, for most controlled substances, still constitutes a felony. And like with other drug charges, constitutional protections against unlawful searches and seizures often lie right at the center of these cases. In fact, the Oregon’s appellate courts have recently clarified the importance of these protections by drawing clearer lines around how police find and seize evidence and what prosecutors are then not allowed to present as evidence in these cases when those lines are crossed.

This robust and rapidly changing environment means it is even more vital than ever to have the right attorney zealously and competently advocating for you if you are facing criminal drug charges.