Time for Hard Choices on Federal Drug Enforcement

A marijuana plant at the Botanacare marijuana store ahead of their grand opening on New Year’s day in Northglenn, Colo., December 31, 2013. (Rick Wilking/Reuters)
Oregon’s decriminalization of hard narcotics should compel the feds to end the ambiguity over drug policy — while respecting state sovereignty.

NRPLUS MEMBER ARTICLE W ith controversy over the 2020 election still stirring, a notable development has escaped much attention. Not only has the national trend toward legalizing marijuana continued, a Rubicon has been crossed: Oregon adopted a ballot initiative that decriminalizes the possession of hard narcotics, including heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamines.

No, it is not a green-light for drug trafficking — not yet at least. The ballot initiative approved in the Beaver State aims to strike the criminal penalties for the possession of personal-use amounts of illegal narcotics, generally a misdemeanor, not possession of greater amounts, which indicates an intent to engage in felony distribution.