U.S. voters were in a mood to legalize mind-altering substances Nov. 3. Oregon went the furthest, decriminalizing harder drugs in an effort to promote addiction treatment programs over criminal sentences.

Catholic bishops in many of the states, including Oregon, had spoken out against the legalization measures, pointing to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which teaches that drug use “inflicts very grave damage on human health and life.”

In June 2014, Pope Francis condemned the legalization of recreational drugs in an address to drug enforcement agencies.

“Let me state this in the clearest terms possible: The problem of drug use is not solved with drugs! Drug addiction is an evil, and with evil there can be no yielding or compromise,” the pope said. “To think that harm can be reduced by permitting drug addicts to use narcotics in no way resolves the problem.”

Oregon voters passed Ballot Measure 110, making it the first state to decriminalize the possession and use of small amounts of controlled substances including heroin, cocaine and methamphetamines. The new law will reduce penalties for possession of large amounts of controlled substances.

The measure passed with 59% of voters in favor. Recreational marijuana has been legal in Oregon since 2014.

Supporters of Measure 110 argued that reduced arrests and incarceration will provide savings that can be used to make addiction treatment more widely available and free of charge. They also say drug crimes are disproportionately enforced against racial minorities.

The Oregon Catholic Conference, led by Portland Archbishop Alexander Sample and Baker Bishop Liam Cary, countered in a prepared statement that while the church firmly supports treatment and rehabilitation for all those suffering from addictions, this is not the way.

“We encourage you to get behind solid programs and NOT accept an initiative that promotes the use of illegal drugs,” the bishops told Oregon voters.

The conference cited local communities and treatment groups that have expressed reservations about how the program would be applied. Other critics have said decriminalization of the drugs would cause more addiction by making drugs easier to acquire and by removing law enforcement and the courts from drug regulation.

One Catholic Sentinel reader commented on legalizing marijuana: “That stuff enslaves.”

Oregon voters also approved Ballot Measure 109, which will legalize medical use of psilocybin, a psychoactive compound found in some mushrooms, for mental health treatment. That initiative drew the support of 55% of voters.

Though the FDA has deemed psilocybin a potential breakthrough therapy for major depression, studies are inconclusive. The American Psychiatric Association and the Oregon Psychiatric Physicians Association both opposed the measure, saying proponents overstate the drug’s usefulness in treating many phenomena, including anxiety and addiction.

Voters in South Dakota, Montana, Arizona and New Jersey legalized recreational use of marijuana. Mississippi approved medical marijuana with 74% of voters in favor.

Catholic News Agency contributed to this report.