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Oregon to reverse decriminalization experiment in response to increasing overdose deaths

Oregon ​Lawmakers Aim‌ to Reverse ⁣Drug⁢ Decriminalization ‌as ‍Overdose Deaths Soar

Lawmakers in Oregon are taking steps to reverse​ an experimental project that decriminalized the possession‍ of all drugs, as the state grapples⁣ with a sharp increase in fatal overdoses. ‍The three-year-long experimental law is ⁢now being⁣ reconsidered, with⁢ a⁤ focus⁤ on making small drug possessions, including fentanyl,⁢ heroin, and cocaine, illegal once again. The measure⁣ has already passed ⁤both state houses and‌ is awaiting the signature ​of Gov. Tina ‍Kotek (D-OR).

“What we have tried to do is give law enforcement tools they need to intervene​ in the moment and hand [addicted people] off to the behavioral health mental world,” Democratic State⁤ Rep. Jason Kropfl told‍ the Wall ⁤Street​ Journal. “The​ overarching goal⁢ is how do you sometimes give a little ​bit of a push to treatment.”

Oregon has ‍experienced a staggering 1,500% surge in overdose deaths since the beginning of the ⁢COVID-19 ⁢pandemic, the highest increase in the country according to federal⁤ data. This alarming trend coincides with the⁢ rising rates of fentanyl ⁢overdoses across the United‍ States.

The original bill that allowed recreational drug use aimed ⁤to divert drug users away from incarceration‍ and towards rehabilitation. ⁤However, lawmakers ‌discovered that without consequences for drug use, individuals who had no intention of ​quitting would continue their drug habits.

The call for the recriminalization of drug‍ use comes as business owners, law‍ enforcement officers, ‍and state⁣ residents express concerns about the widespread drug ​use in​ public spaces.⁢ Similar demands⁤ for stricter punishments ‌for drug use are also being made in other blue West⁢ Coast states.

Under ⁢the⁢ new bill, ⁣drug users will ⁢be given ​the⁤ opportunity to​ enter rehab before facing potential misdemeanor charges. However, the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon has voiced concerns that this option may primarily ‍benefit affluent white individuals.

“People with money, connections, or racial privilege will be most‌ likely to get into limited treatment spaces,” the statement said. “Black, brown, and low-income people will continue ‌to be⁣ jailed at the highest rates.”

If individuals are caught smoking or using drugs, law enforcement officers will⁢ have the authority ​to ‌confiscate the drugs and charge the users with a misdemeanor offense that carries a maximum sentence ‌of​ six months in jail.


How has the ‍implementation of⁣ Measure 110, which decriminalized drug possession, impacted‌ overdose deaths in Oregon?

L health system and ⁣the treatment system,” said Rep. Tawna ⁜Sanchez (D-Portland),‍ one of the⁤ lawmakers ‍behind the reversal bill. “And so what we’re saying ⁣is, not just ‌no, but absolutely not anymore.”

The experimental law, known as Measure​ 110, was passed in November 2020 and aimed to reduce drug addiction by treating it ⁤as a health issue rather than ⁤a criminal one. Under the law, individuals found in possession of ⁤small amounts of drugs would face a⁣ citation and a $100 fine rather than criminal charges. Instead, the funds that would have been used to enforce ‍drug possession laws were redirected towards drug treatment programs.

However, since the​ implementation of Measure 110, the​ state⁣ has witnessed ⁤a ​significant surge in overdose deaths, particularly ⁣involving potent synthetic opioids like fentanyl.⁢ Critics argue that the decriminalization policy has inadvertently contributed to the rise in drug-related deaths by removing​ penalties that could have deterred drug use.

According to ⁢the Oregon Health ​Authority,‌ there was a 40%‌ increase ​in overdose deaths⁤ in 2020 compared to ⁣the previous year. This disturbing trend has continued into 2021, with overdose deaths rising a ​further 27% in ⁢the first quarter alone. The dire circumstances have prompted legislators to reevaluate ⁤the effectiveness ​of the decriminalization approach and⁣ seek alternative strategies.

The ⁣proposed reversal bill, HB 3071, seeks​ to revert to the previous ‌criminalization laws for the ​possession of small amounts of‌ drugs. If it becomes law, individuals found in possession⁡ of fentanyl, heroin, cocaine, and other drugs in small quantities could face criminal⁣ charges and potential jail time. The ‌bill aims to provide ⁤law enforcement with the necessary tools ‍to intervene at the moment of drug possession and redirect individuals towards behavioral and addiction treatment programs.

Proponents‌ of the reversal argue that the change is ‍urgently ‌needed to address the escalating overdose crisis and to ⁤ensure that addicted individuals receive the help ⁢they need.​ They‍ emphasize the importance of redirecting resources towards ‌treatment options ⁢rather than relying solely ⁢on decriminalization.

Opponents, however, contend that reverting to criminalization is not the solution and ⁤could exacerbate the problem. They argue that ⁢the focus should be on expanding ⁣access to quality addiction treatment services and harm reduction initiatives rather than punitive measures.

Governor Tina ‍Kotek⁢ has yet to sign the reversal bill⁤ into‍ law, and the decision is eagerly awaited by both advocates and critics. Regardless of the outcome, the need‌ to address the soaring overdose deaths in Oregon is clear. Whether through a revised decriminalization approach, increased treatment options, or a ⁣combination of both, finding effective strategies to tackle the ‌complex issue of drug addiction ⁤remains a pressing ‌priority for lawmakers and advocates alike.

" Conservative News Daily does not always share or support the views and opinions expressed here; they are just those of the writer."

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