The US state of Oregon has officially decriminalized possession of small amounts of street drugs such as cocaine, heroin, LSD, and methamphetamine.

As of February 1, punishment for possessing these drugs became the legal equivalent to a traffic ticket.

The state will no longer jail people for petty possession of a substance; instead, violators will be given the option of paying a $100 fine or participating in a health assessment program, which will be conducted through various addiction recovery centres.

The push for drug decriminalization in Oregon came after similar programs have seen success, namely Portugal and Switzerland. There, disciplinary drug laws have been reduced in favour of a public health-oriented approach.

Anyone in Oregon who manufactures or distributes, or is caught with dealer-sized quantities of any form of illegal substances, will be subject to a criminal penalty and will be arrested and face criminal prosecution under the existing state laws.

With files from Téana Graziani

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