Reduction in Drug Crime Penalties in Oregon May be “Bellwether” Legislation for National Reform

In 2015, Oregon legalized recreational marijuana. To date, seven states and the District of Colombia have adopted full legalization, and 26 states have legalized marijuana in some form. But what about more serious drugs like crystal meth and cocaine? There are no plans to legalize narcotics in the near future, but reduced penalties are on the horizon.

Drugs, Amounts, and Penalties

A new law in Oregon will reduce first-time possession of certain drugs from a felony to a misdemeanor. As with most criminal offenses, penalties will be largely dependent on prior history and the particulars of the case. For example, individuals with prior felony convictions and those who are found in possession of commercial quantities of a drug are not likely to receive the benefits of this new legislation. Specific drugs and amounts covered by this statute are as follows:

  • Less than two grams of cocaine
  • Less than two grams of methamphetamine
  • Less than one gram of heroin
  • Less than 40 pills of oxycodone
  • Less than 40 unites of LSD

If an individual with no prior convictions is found in possession of any of the above, he or she will likely spend less than one year in prison and will have to pay a fine of no more than $6,250. In addition to a reduction in drug crime penalties, the new law is also focused on addressing police profiling through improved data recording of traffic and pedestrian stops. A Boston criminal defense attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been charged with a drug crime.

Local law enforcement in Oregon is generally supportive of the new legislation, saying that stiffer penalties often bring unintended consequences such as years of housing and employment issues. But there are also some reservations. In a letter to a state senator, the Oregon State Sheriffs’ Association and the Oregon Association Chiefs of Police wrote that, ”Reducing penalties without aggressively addressing underlying addiction is unlikely to help those who need it most.” The groups went on to add that it will “only produce positive results if additional drug treatment resources accompany this change in policy.” Oregon has also proposed a bill that will appropriate $7 million for drug treatment in that state.

MA Still Tough on Drug Crimes

If you are convicted of possession in MA, you may face the following penalties:

  • Possession of Class A substance (including heroin and morphine): 1st offense is up to two years in jail, 2nd offense is up to five years in prison.
  • Possession of Class B substance (including cocaine, LSD, Ecstasy, and opioids): 1st offense is up to one year in jail, 2nd offense is up to two years in jail.
  • Possession of Class C substance (including Valium, Xanax, and Adderall): 1st offense is up to one year in jail, 2nd offense is up to two years in jai

A MA defense attorney can help you protect your rights if you’ve been charged with a drug crime.

Altman & Altman, LLP – Boston’s Top Criminal Defense Law Firm

If you have been charged with any type of criminal offense, the skilled legal team at Altman & Altman, LLP can help. We have been protecting the rights of individuals charged with crimes for more than 50 years. In time, reduced drug crime penalties will likely be rolled out nationwide. But for now, MA is still tough on drug crimes. Our experienced, knowledgeable attorneys will analyze the details of your case to determine the most appropriate legal strategy, and we’ll position you for the best possible outcome. Fortunately, MA has several alternative sentencing options for first-time drug offenders. At Altman & Altman, LLP, we have an impressive track record of getting clients’ charges reduced, or dismissed altogether. If you are facing criminal charges, we can help. Contact Altman & Altman, LLP today for a free and confidential consultation about your case.



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