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    • Allowing someone who is cited for drug possession to choose between a fine and a health assessment is an interesting idea. One question, I guess, is whether the policy will end up curbing excessive drug use or increasing it by essentially condoning it.

    • It will interesting to see how things shake out. According to this link, Portugal has had good results with decriminalization.

      Portugal decriminalized drug possession in 2001. More than a decade later, drug use has remained about the same – but arrests, incarceration, disease, overdose and other harms are all down:

      -Portugal’s drug use rates remain below the European average and far lower than rates of drug use in the U.S.

      -Between 1998 and 2011, the number of people in drug treatment increased by more than 60%.

      -The number of new HIV diagnoses dropped dramatically – from 1,575 cases in 2000 to 78 cases in 2013 – and the number of new AIDS cases decreased from 626 in 2000 to 74 cases in 2013.

      -Drug overdose fatalities also dropped from about 80 in 2001 to just 16 in 2012.

      -The number of people arrested and sent to criminal courts for drug offenses annually declined by more than 60% following decriminalization.

      -The percentage of people behind bars in Portugal for drug law violations also decreased dramatically, from 44% in 1999 to 24% in 2013.

    • How will impaired drivers, and their risks to the public on the highways and sidewalks, be handled?

      How the motor vehicle accident statistics of Oregon compares with other states, will be informative to follow.

      How do the motor vehicle accident statistics compare in states permitting recreational use of certain drugs, compare to states that do not allow recreational drug use? Is there a statistical difference, or not? Does anyone have really good statistics to answer these questions?

    • How will impaired drivers, and their risks to the public on the highways and sidewalks, be handled?

      I'm not certain, as I haven't seen anything about this specifically. But I imagine it will be pretty much the same as it has been for alcohol and cannabis.

      What's the penalty for driving stoned?

      A first-time offender charged with Driving Under the Influence faces a Class A misdemeanor subject to up to one year in jail, a fine of at least $1,000 and driving restrictions. Driving while high on marijuana is also a Class B traffic violation subject to an additional fine of $130 to $1,000.

      Subsequent offenses carry heavier penalties. A third DUI within 10 years is a Class C felony subject to five years in jail and permanent loss of driving privileges.

    • When I was a young medical student half a century ago, I was taught by a forensic pathologist in Indianapolis, that about 1/3-1/2 of MVA fatalities involved a drunk driver, and another 1/3 of remaining MVA fatalities involved drivers with psychoactive drugs onboard - sedatives, antihistamines, barbiturates, narcotics, etc.

      The CDC continues to look at the health consequences of impaired drivers - whether from drugs, alcohol, disease, or infirmity - The accident fatality rates have continued to drop due to safer automobile designs, seat belts, air bags, better highway construction etc, but people still continue to die every day in motor vehicle accidents - these statistics are only about highway vehicles ( cars, trucks, motorcycles ) and not about accidents due to intoxicated drivers of boats, trains, snow mobiles, quad runners OHVs, farm tractors, power tools, industrial tools, firearms, and airplanes which all are not infrequently involved as well. So the numbers from the CDC tend to err on the low side I suspect. The numbers I was taught as a medical student were from a forensic study conducted by my professor's own research.

      The CDC website says

      "In 2016, 10,497 people died in alcohol-impaired driving crashes, accounting for 28% of all traffic-related deaths in the United States".

      "Drugs other than alcohol (legal and illegal) are involved in about 16% of motor vehicle crashes."

      "One death every 50 minutes"

      Thus the CDC estimates that at least 44% of motor vehicle accidents involve drug or alcohol impaired drivers. One estimate states that after dark on week ends, over 13% of drivers are impaired - that would be roughly every 8th car you pass by. Reflect on that for a minute...

      Some ER physicians might estimate that 20% of all ER visits ( in non-pandemic times anyway) are alcohol or drug related. Those are huge numbers of medical interactions.

      Recreational drug use unfortunately involves far more people than just the primary users themselves.

      I am all for freedom, but real freedom comes only with real responsibililty to, and for, my fellow human's safety on the highway.

    • I am all for freedom, but real freedom comes only with real responsibililty to, and for, my fellow human's safety on the highway.

      Undoubtedly some people will take this as an opportunity to more freely use drugs recreationally. But this measure isn't about making illicit drugs more accessible or more accepted. You still can't buy them legally. It's about changing the way the problem is dealt with - as a medical problem for the user, not a legal one. At least not until they make the irresponsible decision to become one of the statistics you cited.

    • Dealing with drugs and alcohol and their users, has been a problem for humanity for millenia. No society has seemed to find the perfect solutions.

      My post above was not about the wisdom of using those agents, but about the apparent inability of users to critically evalute their ability to safely use vehicles and tools while under the influence of an ingested, inhaled, or injected drug, or drugs, and to act responsibly when impaired.

      And the resultant risks that flow onto non-users and their families, children and friends.

      In the 19th century narcotics and weed were all legally widely available in the US, but society ultimately decided that that situation contributed to a lot of harm to users and non-users, and made those substances illegal, even though most folks in opium dens did not put other citizens at risk of life and limb. Still, society made a decision about risks and benefits, and decided that the risks vastly outweighed the advantages to society.

      We tried again the the 1930s with Prohibition with similar poor results.

      Today, there are now synthetic drugs that are much more potent, addictive, harmful to the user, more dangerous, more toxic, more damaging to brain and thought, than were dreamed of in the 19th century.

      But we, as a society, are certainly far more far insightful than our great grand parents were back then, when vehicles were only horse drawn.

      Or not! Time will tell.

      I do get the idea that medical treatment MAY be more effective than incarceration and do not disagree with that thesis - but only time will tell if that is really as effective as claimed.

      I was in Denver visiting relatives a couple years ago, and the Denver police closed a major 4 lane divided urban roadway, on the west side of Denver, at about 9 pm - police stopped all traffic and spoke to and interviewed each and every driver to verify sobriety - ostensibly.

      At the time I I wondered why the traffic stop; but if 1 out of 8 vehicles after dark on weekends is driven by a driver under the influence of alcohol or drugs, I may understand what was going on.

    • We're on the same page regarding impairment. I'm not advocating drug use, either - it didn't really come through clearly in my other comment, but I think recreational use itself is irresponsible. My comment was just to point out that nowhere in this new measure does it say that illicit drug use is legal. The change is in the punishment. Portugal has had drug-related incidents decrease, so there is at least potential here in the US. Hopefully we'll see some good come of it, as other countries have. If not, hopefully we'll be smart enough to make necessary changes.