Drug Law

Hard drugs, shoplifting, hit-and-run, resisting arrest decriminalized in Portland, Oregon

| by NORML

(Raw Story) The district attorney in Multnomah County, the state’s most populous area with over 710,000 residents, announced recently that it can no longer prosecute dozens of crimes thanks to an ever-shrinking budget.

Caught with small amounts of heroin, cocaine or methamphetamine? It’s a ticket. So’s a hit-and-run accident. Small-time shoplifting? You’ll still get arrested, but it’s still just a violation.

Other crimes which the county will adjust to violation level include trespassing on non-commercial property, “theft or forgery in the second degree,” harassment, interfering with a police officer, interfering with public transportation, resisting arrest (non-injury) and criminal mischief in the second degree.

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A police officer saw a young black couple drive by and pulled them over. What he did next left them stunned:

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A police officer saw a young black couple drive by and pulled them over. What he did next left them stunned:

(KGW) In his 29 years as District Attorney, Mike Schrunk says he’s never had to do this.

The County’s Board of Commissioners has cut his budget to the point where he has to redraw the line on what his department can and cannot afford to prosecute. Even those suspects resisting arrest will have no threat of jail time. It’ll be like getting a speeding ticket.

“In a perfect world would we do this? No,” said Schrunk.

But crimes that will still be prosecuted in Multnomah County include possession of more than one ounce of marijuana and growing any amount of marijuana, absent a medical marijuana card, and selling marijuana, even with a medical marijuana card.

Twelve percent of Oregon adults aged 18+ will use cannabis this year.  In Multnomah County, that works out to at least 86,783 cannabis consumers annually (I bet more, since there are likely to be more of us in cities than in the country).  The District Attorney’s office has a budget of $25.7 million.  If each of us were providing $25 in tax revenue every month, we could more than double the DA’s budget (86,783 * $25 * 12 months = $26 million).

Imagine a $50/ounce tax on marijuana sold through regulated state outlets, with half going to law enforcement and half going to health care.  Oregon could be the safest and healthiest state in the nation by merely taking advantage the already existing popular market in cannabis.  But instead, we’re going to let thieves, harassers, hit-n-run drivers, and vandals run wild so we can keep locking up cannabis consumers.