Janie Gullickson says if anyone should have had access to drug rehabilitation support, it was her.
Born into a middle-class family in Oregon, she was her parents' first experience of addiction, starting with alcohol at age 12 and then meth at 15.
Now executive director of the Mental Health and Addiction Association of Oregon, she became one of the chief petitioners of Measure 110. But she only joined the first-of-its-kind ballot initiative that decriminalised the possession of all illegal drugs in Oregon, after decades of arrest and heartache, despite desperately seeking help.
The initiative passed by a wide margin in November, and new laws came into effect this month. Oregonians found in possession of small amounts of heroin, methamphetamine, LSD, oxycodone or other drugs are now fined, rather than jailed, unless they agree to treatment.
A similar drug-decriminalisation bill is currently under review for the ACT.
Ms Gullickson says it was only after she was given access to a six-month recovery program in prison that she was able to overcome her own addiction.
"I wondered why that wasn't available in the community - why did I have to spend 22 years in this addiction, not able to raise my children, devastating family members and creating trauma? I was told it was just too expensive," she said.
Ms Gullickson said meth, opioid and alcohol abuse have had a devastating effect on Oregon, and have had a disproportionate impact on the west coast state's black community.
"Oregon is a state continuously rating highest in addiction and lowest in access to treatment and other recovery support services," she said.
"The criminal justice commission here in Oregon has predicted decriminalisation in itself will reduce drug arrests and communities of colour by 95 per cent."
Oregon will use surplus cannabis tax money to fund a system of services and supports for those caught in possession of drugs.
Back in Canberra, Labor backbencher Michael Pettersson introduced a private members' bill earlier this month which would set a possession limit of two grams for cocaine, ice and heroin, and 0.5 grams for ecstasy.
It would also include limits for LSD, magic mushrooms and amphetamines.
Mr Pettersson said while Canberra isn't experiencing a drug epidemic like that described in Oregon, there was definitely a section of the community suffering from the harm associated with drugs.
With no way to generate tax revenue from the decriminalisation of cannabis in the ACT, Mr Pettersson suggested funding for health services would come from general revenue.
He said directing money used for punitive drug-law enforcement towards drug-harm minimisation would boost the capacity of services.
"Every dollar spent on a judge's time, a court's time, a police officer's time is money wasted; we just need to get the people using drugs in front of a medical professional as soon as we can," Mr Pettersson said.
In regards to prison providing an addiction circuit-breaker, he said while he understood the theory, it didn't reflect reality.
"Name a prison for me that doesn't have drugs in it," he said.