Ending the war on drugs?

A look at Oregon’s first-of-its-kind measure that decriminalizes possession of all drugs.
11:16 | 12/05/20

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Transcript for Ending the war on drugs?
Here is the only Republican cosponsor of the more act and I am voting for it. Because the federal government has lied to the people of this country about marijuana for a generation. We have seen. A generation particularly of black and brown youth locked up for offenses that not it should have not resulted in any incarceration. Whatsoever. Republican congressman Matt gates there were those hiring words in support of the democrats' bill that passed the house today to decriminalize marijuana. Gates was one of just five Republicans who joined 222 Democrats in voting for the bill. The law would also require federal courts or released inmates serving sentences for nonviolent marijuana offenses it was the first time ever. Either chamber passed a bill to legalize marijuana right now the legislation is not expected to pass in the senate but he is cleared it attitudes about drugs and more specifically their relationship to the criminal justice system or. Changing in this country and there is no clear example than in Orange and where. Voters passed a measure decriminalizing drug possession ending years of pro in addition to raising new questions are clean sand hill has this in depth look. It was the first shots and a new war America's public enemy number one in the United States is drug abuse. In order to fight and defeat this enemy it is necessary to wage. A new all out offensive. President Nixon officially launching America's war on drugs and later First Lady Nancy Reagan and her my drug of just saying no. We want you to help us create an outspoken and tolerance for drug use. You pray and those iconic anti drug commercials trying to sway the public to join the fight who tortured and do this stuff. You are right. I learned by watching you. Nearly fifty years later after countless drug seizures arrests a crack cocaine epidemic and now a deadly oatmeal in crisis claiming tens of thousands of lives every year. The country is taking a hard look at the government's never ending war and its effects. I'm really into a failed policy and I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that is one of the worst domestic I'll eat that we happen modern history. Casualty of the. There were on drugs but Imus by Americans like former heroin user turned drug policy reform advocate Morgan god didn't believe the war on drugs has cost far too much. Addiction is defined as a failure to respond to negative consequences. Who you know. Before I was ever arrested a thirty didn't fire fired from my job struggled with homelessness. You know all these interpersonal relationship it's just consequence after consequence after consequence yet you can't stop you and I just kept using. And so just. Game going one more consequence in front of my face was like yeah well put it on my tab my life has already. Everyone I know that overdosed and died. Was jailed repeatedly first they are the true casualties of the war on drugs but now. Oregon where Morgan lives is leading the charge in dealing what may be the biggest blow to America's drug policy in half a century Oregon is now the first state in the country to decriminalize hard drugs the state last month passed measure won ten legislation means that users caught carrying what's deemed to be up. Personal amount of drugs. Even the hard stuff like heroin. Will be given the option to pay a 100 dollar fine like a traffic ticket or complete a health assessment that could provide them with access to treatment. Obvious means no more arrests and no jail. I'm. Haven't. Or how. Cassandra Frederica is the executive director of drug policy action. The national group behind writing measure won ten and campaigning for the past she says classifying drug use is criminal is outdated and harmful. I'm in. Options that. I'm you. She didn't. She used to do I am sure. I am. And that we're when barriers that also. I am I what are your. A whopping 58% of oregonians voted in favor of the bill with organizations like the ACLU. Local NAACP chapters and even the Portland DA supporting the measure the current enforcement and drug laws is an equitable and ineffective. But the measure is also getting pushed back and from a surprising source. Many in the addiction recovery community say the law comes up short. He decriminalize drugs for the actually. Builds a new inner pension system that the current. Court system provides. A our people in treatment today because they were arrested for drug possession. Tony does say now is one of many organ residents who got into treatment the cause of an arrest what substances were you using it the worst. OK so. Weighing. I was in my addiction. And at the end. Clayton. I would've taking your wallet. He struggled with substances for well over a decade the turning point for me really. Was. Right around time I had my first kid and now as a mother basin to change. The path for me to get completely sober. You know took a few years after I had my efforts kid I was homeless got arrested went to jail was offered treatment while I was in jail. Went to treatment while is in treatment I was. Given the opportunity go to college and really. A mess into. You know a recovery community. Now eight years sober. He runs forty recovery in Portland center aimed at helping addicted you. Maintain they're seen riding through community. Worries Mitchell won ten won't do enough to push people into treatment. But just. Curious if you thought about that scenario and in what might have happened to you had measured and had measure once then bent in place. The reality is is that question keeps me up every night I I run an organization whose mission is to help young people recover right and what is the system we need. Says to Deval. Two to insure more people can recover potentially. IA. Could have overdose potentially would have created are in now another set of circumstances. That would. Drastically impacted the rest of my life we have not. Created that new intervention system and we've taken one away. I'm a recipient. An intervention to have him on justices that was the last time that I went to treatment was not from the judge. Adrienne Burris works for Tony at forty and says that interventionist streak criminal justice system changed his life. My drug addictions and about five years. You know an axis kind of felt like I was I was at the end of my rope you know. Now I got picked up for some pretty significant charges. And that's kind of like. Would put me on the right path I ended up in streaming. An F five months that I send 055 or six months was was really crucial. Because. I always like you know over time using drugs I had the desire to stop. But it I had couldn't develop the will until I had a substantial amount of time away from the substances. Are people going to be let go who should be may be getting arrested and going into treatment. It's hard for me to say this that beginning aggressive but I can say. People are gonna be let go that should be going to treat you know. I'm not saying that they're getting arrested soon be that pathway I think the whole system these things play in a different way then and asks do you do this measure. While there is disagreement about how to best address the addiction crisis through policy there are significant signs that attitudes toward the war on drugs is changing a Tony nineteen poll showed that 67% of Americans are in favor of legalizing marijuana. You know prayer example are climbing scene in where marijuana legalization ending. That black you know couple and eight and you get your opinion polls. Well you. Know the public doesn't want him jailed. On Election Day this year organ was not the only state to take major action on drugs New Jersey Montana Arizona and South Dakota voted to legalize recreational marijuana a move crossing party lines since 201211. Other states and Washington DC voted to legalize marijuana for adults 21 and over. Since 1996. A total of 36 states have legalized medical marijuana I'm here in Colorado where our law has been legal racially long time. And is sort part of landscape. Where are you see this going as the trends nationwide. You're stationed there definitely going to be intentions UT what happens with the organ all of the event you know it takes it didn't take that back up at great earth. And I think there were no there's going to be a lot of attention paid to what what changes for senior argun a 308. No one will be watching more closely than or billions themselves the state is in the midst of a growing crisis. Overdose deaths jumped by 70%. In the state between April and may of this year compared with the same period in 2019. And help the more than 330000. Organ residents believed to have a substance use disorder. There are only about 14100 beds to accommodate them if they choose to seek help measure won ten aims to greatly expand access to treatment the. While excited about imagine Hulu. I am a definition of Xiamen. A lot right it was not our. And Shannon. I'm and not just how treatment out harm reduction in. Our additional. And the yeah. Morgan hopes organs new measure will provide real opportunities to drug users in need and save them from the pitfalls she faced when she was behind bars. My government broke my heart they really did because I learned enough moment. We're not actually there to help me being punished me for the sake of punishment there is not a shred of rehabilitation. I used don't think anyone should have to get arrested first to get the treatment they need. No one should have to get. A criminal record to get access to drug treatment that is unacceptable. Only holds hope for the future to hear how optimistic are you that you'll eventually get to the point that you want to see. Real change happen you know there was some division around what measure once and for recovery advocates and origin. You know were coming back together now collectively. Around them understanding of what what is the work that needs that need to moving forward. And I that we away. Social justice. And diversity equity cuisine before and that and because of that spirituality of the movement. He has name for ABC news and Clayton Sandoz and Colorado.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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