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Oregon’s drug decriminalization effort a ‘tragedy’

Dan Springer Thu, June 16, 2022

The streets of downtown Portland, Oregon, resemble an open-air drug market.

Heroin, meth and fentanyl use is rampant and often visible on city streets. Portland police officers drive by homeless addicts buying and using.

The signs of drug addiction are actually increasing throughout the state, according to law enforcement sources. Oregon ranks second-highest among U.S. states for substance abuse with nearly one in five adults addicted.

In November 2020, voters overwhelmingly passed Measure 110. The Drug Addiction Treatment and Recovery Act secured 58% of the votes and decriminalized possession of small amounts of hard drugs such as heroin, meth, cocaine and fentanyl.

The new law made possession of those substances no more than a Class E violation, the equivalent of a traffic ticket punishable by a maximum $100 fine. But the fine is dismissed when someone who is fined calls a help hotline, Lines for Life, and completes a health assessment. The idea is to connect drug abusers with services and treatment instead of putting them behind bars.

Sixteen months into this first-in-the-nation experiment, the numbers paint a bleak picture. Drug overdose deaths hit an all-time high in 2021 with 1069, a 41% increase from 2020. And very few people are getting into treatment. According to The Lund Report, after one year, just 136 people had entered treatment, less than 1% of those helped by Measure 110. But the actual number may be even lower.

David Murray is a senior fellow in the Hudson Institute who advised drug czars in two different presidential administrations.

“It is predictable, was predicted and now, unfortunately, is coming to pass in front of our eyes,” said Murray, “It is a tragedy and a self-inflicted wound.”

The Oregon Judicial Department reports that, through the end of May, police throughout the state had written 2,576 tickets for drug possession since Measure 110 was enacted. Seventy-five percent of the tickets resulted in convictions, the vast majority because the offender never showed up in court.

For complete article Oregon’s drug decriminalization effort a ‘tragedy’