Oregon Passes Bill to Recriminalize Drug Possession

Oregon Passes Bill to Recriminalize Drug Possession - Encounter Today - Blog

In a shocking reversal of policy, Oregon’s Legislature has passed a bill re-criminalizing the possession of small amounts of drugs, a mere four years after their decriminalization in 2020.

Oregon was the first state in America to decriminalize personal-use amounts of drugs in 2020 after voters gave the thumbs up to Ballot Measure 110 which was intended to shift hundreds of millions of dollars of marijuana tax revenues into drug treatment and harm reduction programs.

But, it didn’t.

According to an audit report released last year, Oregon has the second-highest rate of substance use disorder in the United States and is ranked 50th for access to treatment. Clearly, decriminalizing drugs wasn’t the right move.

Measure 110 (which lead to the decriminalization of drugs) needed to be reversed most especially during the deadliest overdose crisis in U.S. history.

Thankfully, the state Senate approved House Bill 4002 in a 21-8 vote which sends the bill to Governor Tina Kotek’s desk who is expected to sign the bill after signaling her openness to it back in January of this year.

The bill makes the possession of small amounts of drugs such as heroin or methamphetamine a misdemeanor whilst enabling police to confiscate drugs and go after those who use them in public spaces.

The bill also offers drug treatment as an alternative to criminal penalties whilst making it easier to prosecute people who sell drugs.

Democratic Senate Majority Leader Kate Lieber stated:

“With this bill, we are doubling down on our commitment to make sure Oregonians have access to the treatment and care that they need … be the start of real and transformative change for our justice system.”

Some lawmakers voiced concerns over the bill with some going so far as to label it a return to the war on drugs.

Democratic Senator Lew Frederick stated:

“I’m concerned that it (the bill) will attempt to use the same tactics of the past, and fail, only to reinforce the punishment narrative that has failed for 50 years,” he said, adding that the measure could move more people into the court system without making them healthier.”

This January, Governor Tina Kotek declared a 90-day state of emergency in Portland because of the magnitude of the fentanyl problem there with Multnomah County Chair Jessica Vega Pederson and Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler both declaring separate emergencies.

Washington County District Attorney Kevin Barton stated:

“We’ve had three years of this law that has not delivered on the promise that voters thought they were getting.”

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Tags: News
Tags: Governor Tina Kotek, House Bill 4002, Oregon, Oregon’s Legislature, Recriminalize Drug Possession

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