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Oregon becomes first state to decriminalize possession of hard drugs such as heroin, meth, cocaine

Oregon became the first state to decriminalize possession of small amounts of heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, and other drugs when a ballot measure on the issue took effect Monday, the Associated Press reported.

What are the details?

Other decriminalized drugs noted in the measure — which voters passed by a wide margin in November — include LSD, oxycodone, methadone, and MDMA (i.e., ecstasy), the AP said.

Rather than facing serious charges, now those found in possession of such drugs will face a $100 fine, the outlet said.

Matt Sutton — spokesman for the Drug Policy Alliance, which led the ballot initiative — told the AP that the civil citation will be “like a traffic ticket.” The other consequence may be a health assessment that could lead to addiction counseling, the outlet added.

“Today, the first domino of our cruel and inhumane war on drugs has fallen, setting off what we expect to be a cascade of other efforts centering health over criminalization,” Kassandra Frederique, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, told the AP.

More from the outlet:

Under the new system, addiction recovery centers will be tasked with “triaging the acute needs of people who use drugs and assessing and addressing any on-going needs thorough intensive case management and linkage to care and services.”

The addiction recovery centers will be funded by millions of dollars of tax revenue from Oregon’s legalized marijuana industry. That diverts some funds from other programs and entities that already receive it, like schools.

The ballot measure capped the amount of pot tax revenue that schools; mental health alcoholism and drug services; the state police; and cities and counties receive at $45 million annually, with the rest going to a “Drug Treatment and Recovery Services Fund.”

The fund will be stacked with cash if the trend for marijuana sales continues as projected, the AP said, adding that marijuana tax revenues peaked at $133 million In fiscal year 2020 — a 30% increase over the previous year and a 545% increase over 2016 when pot tax collection from registered recreational marijuana outfits commenced.

The outlet said two dozen district attorneys opposed the measure, saying it was reckless and would lead to an increase in the acceptability of dangerous drugs.

Anything else?

Oregon is a pioneer in liberalizing drug laws, the AP reported, noting that in 1973 it became the first state to decriminalize marijuana possession — and in 2014, voters passed a ballot measure legalizing recreational marijuana use.

But Sutton told the outlet there are no plans to pursue legalization and a regulated market of hard drugs in the state.

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Texas man buys car at auction, discovers $850,000 in cocaine hidden inside

When you purchase a used car, you typically want to eliminate any possible surprises. Usually, car buyers are worried about a timing belt that’s on its last leg or a cracked engine block. But one Texas man purchased a used car at an auction and got way more than he ever bargained for — nearly $1 million in cocaine.

A Laredo man went to an automobile auction where he took a crack at buying a new car. The man knew exactly what vehicle he wanted and had his bid lined up. He won the auction for the car and drove it home.

Little did he know that right under his nose was a massive amount of cocaine stashed. The man sniffed out a secret compartment in the vehicle, and inside was bundles of drugs.

The lucky bidder called police on Saturday. Deputies from the Webb County Sheriff’s Office arrived at his home, the Houston Chronicle reported.

The cops discovered 17 bundles, and police dogs found out another 17 bundles stuffed in a second hidden compartment. The total weight of the coke was 74.96 pounds, estimated to have a street value of $850,000. Imagine how many cars you could get from an auction if you were to blow all that money?

“I thank and congratulate the person who alerted us to the drugs. Had he not been an honest individual, the drugs could have ended up in the wrong hands,” Sheriff Martin Cuellar said in a statement. “I encourage the public to report any crime or suspicious activity by calling our hotline at 956-415-BUST (2878). You may be eligible for a cash reward.”

Who says you can’t cut a good deal at the auto auction?

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The French government actually had to tell people that cocaine isn’t a cure for coronavirus after the fake claim spread online

The French government was forced to combat the claim that cocaine cures the coronavirus Sunday after a misinformation campaign recently began circulating widely online.

“No, cocaine does NOT protect against COVID-19. It is an addictive drug that causes serious side effects and is harmful to people’s health,” the French health ministry tweeted in response to doctored images being spread on the internet suggesting that the drug “kills” the virus.

The images, which were posted to Twitter by profiles boasting hundreds of thousands of followers, appeared to show news headlines about the new miracle cure, Business Insider reported. “Cocaine kills coronavirus,” the headlines read in the images, which were retweeted and liked thousands of times on Twitter.

Most users who reacted to the tweets seemed to know that they were fake and treated the information as a joke. But, nonetheless, given the panic and hysteria over the international outbreak, the French government felt that they had to quash the misinformation.

Politifact also stepped in to debunk the claims over the weekend.

Numerous conspiracy theories have circulated online since the outbreak of the virus in Wuhan, China, late last year. Such theories range from the suggestion that the virus originated in a lab as a biological weapon to theories suggesting that the virus can be spread through pets, mosquito bites, and goods manufactured in China.

In response to the misinformation spread, the World Health Organization has set up a website page aimed at debunking myths and conspiracies about the virus.

France has been hit particularly hard by the coronavirus, officially known as COVID-19. At the time of this article’s publication, over 1,400 had tested positive for the virus in the country, resulting in 30 deaths.