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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Oregon Legislature. This is a venue for political and policy coverage of the state government in Salem and its impact on the people of Oregon.

Oregon Law Enforcement Groups Support Lower Sentences For Drug Possession


Two law enforcement groups in Oregon say drug possession convictions should result in lighter sentences than they currently do. The Oregon Sheriffs Association and the Oregon Association of Chiefs of Police said they'll urge state lawmakers to classify drug possession as a misdemeanor instead of a felony when no other crimes are committed.

The groups say their limited resources should be spent on reducing violent crimes and property crimes. That pleases Bobbin Singh, the executive director of the Oregon Justice Resource Center.

"I think it's profound and also very exciting,” Singh said.

Singh pointed out that communities of color are especially affected by current drug laws. And he said this endorsement might give the proposal enough oomph to get through the legislature.

"The fact that law enforcement is taking a lead and has issued this initial statement around this goes to the legitimacy of looking at this as a public health issue rather than a criminal justice problem,” Singh said.

In some Oregon counties, first-time drug offenders can already avoid felony charges if they complete treatment.