Oregon Officials Recriminalize Hard Drugs After Decriminalization

Oregon officials recently recriminalized the possession of small amounts of hard drugs after previously decriminalizing them in a leftist policy shift that has plagued the city with issues.

Oregon Gov. Tina Kotek (D) signed legislation making the personal use and possession of such drugs a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months behind bars. The bill rolls back Measure 110, approved by nearly 50% of voters in the state in 2020, which removed criminal charges for possessing small amounts of drugs, including fentanyl.

The Daily Wire pointed out that the measure was the first of its kind in the U.S.
Instead of slapping criminal charges on individuals possessing hard drugs, offenders received a maximum fine of $100 that was rarely ever enforced. Those using drugs could also have their fine dismissed if they contacted a hotline to receive an addiction screening, according to the Daily Wire.

In the law’s first year, just 1% of individuals who received a ticket for drug possession called the hotline. Years after being in effect, Oregon residents increasingly viewed the measure unfavorably as they dealt with public drug use in their day-to-day lives.

In 2022, over 60% of voters in the state felt that decriminalization exacerbated drug addiction, homelessness and crime, according to a DMH Research survey from May 2023.

Since then, fatal drug overdoses have surged across Oregon, primarily caused by the ongoing fentanyl crisis, given President Joe Biden’s refusal to secure the southern border. The state will likely surpass the number of overdose deaths from 2022 and other years. In 2019, for example, 280 individuals tragically died of an overdose.

The drug crisis has been primarily centered in Portland, Oregon, where addicts commit crimes in broad daylight.

In September 2023, amid rising crime and drug addiction, the Portland City Council banned using hard drugs on public property. Yet, new rules in the city have been ignored as drugs are still decriminalized in the state.

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler (D) supports Oregon’s decision to recriminalize the possession of hard drugs. The law is set to take effect on Sept. 1, 2024.

“People are exhausted from feeling like they’re under siege,” the mayor said. “They want order restored to their environment.”