Supporters of decriminalizing small amounts of illicit drugs start gathering signatures in Portland

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Backers of an initiative to decriminalize small amounts of illicit drugs started collecting signatures in Portland this week.

The Oregonian/OregonLive reports advocates need 112,020 signatures to qualify for the November 2020 ballot.

Campaign manager Peter Zuckerman said the proponents will decide to push ahead with the initiative depending on the success in collecting signatures this month.

The effort is called Initiative Petition 44 or the 2020 Drug Addiction Treatment and Recovery Act. It is backed by the Drug Policy Alliance, the same group behind the 2014 ballot measure that legalized recreational marijuana in Oregon.

He said the initiative’s aim is to shift to a “health-based approach to drug addiction rather than a criminal justice-based approach.”

It would use most tax revenue generated by recreational marijuana sales to fund treatment centers statewide.

The proposal would remove criminal penalties for personal, non-commercial possession of drugs listed as Schedule I, II, III, or IV by the federal Controlled Substances Act, including heroin, methamphetamine and Ecstasy.