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Tags: oregon | illicit drugs | tina kotek | portland

Oregon Gov. Signs Bill Recriminalizing Drug Possession

By    |   Tuesday, 02 April 2024 01:43 PM EDT

Oregon Democrat Gov. Tina Kotek signed a bill recriminalizing illicit drug possession in the state after the botched decriminalization experiment was hampered by problems with implementation.

The Associated Press reported that Kotek said in a letter that the law's success will depend on "deep coordination" between "necessary partners," including the courts, police, prosecutors, defense attorneys, and local mental health providers.

When Measure 110 was approved by Oregon voters in 2020, it was widely supported across the state, especially in Portland, where 75% of the city's residents voted for its passage, according to the Washington Examiner.

The law made the personal use possession of illicit drugs such as heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine punishable by a ticket and a maximum fine of $100.

Since then, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler said his city has struggled with rising homelessness and drug overdoses, as well as businesses fleeing the downtown area, The New York Times reported. He said there was "no question that the state botched the implementation."

"The timing couldn't have been worse in terms of the botched implementation," Wheeler told the Times. "To decriminalize the use of drugs before you actually had the treatment services in place was obviously a huge mistake.

"With the benefit of hindsight, the way that should have been structured is that it would create the mechanism for funding. The state would build up its behavioral health services, and when it reached a certain threshold, then they would decriminalize. It shouldn't have gone the other way around."

In the year after Measure 110 was implemented, drug overdoses spiked 50%, with fentanyl leading the way as the cause of most deaths, according to the Examiner.

The AP reported that funding for Measure 110's treatment centers — drawn from the state's cannabis tax revenue — was slow to arrive and health officials struggled to set up the new treatment system during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The combination of pressures led to the failure of Oregon's first-in-the-nation experiment with legalizing hard drugs.

"There's no question that what Oregon did was a bold experiment and it failed," Wheeler told the Times. "Let's just be honest about that. It was botched in terms of the implementation. The timing was wrong and, frankly, the politics were wrong."

The new recriminalization law, which takes effect Sept. 1, makes personal use possession a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in prison. It also encourages law enforcement agencies to create diversion programs to direct people to addiction and mental health treatment services instead of the criminal justice system.

Nicole Wells

Nicole Wells, a Newsmax general assignment reporter covers news, politics, and culture. She is a National Newspaper Association award-winning journalist.

© 2024 Newsmax. All rights reserved.


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Oregon Democrat Gov. Tina Kotek signed a bill recriminalizing illicit drug possession in the state after the botched decriminalization experiment was hampered by problems with implementation.
oregon, illicit drugs, tina kotek, portland
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2024-43-02
Tuesday, 02 April 2024 01:43 PM
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