Democratic-led Portland, Ore. has become a veritable "open air drug market" since the state decriminalized hard drugs, and overdose deaths have skyrocketed 41%, the Daily Mail reported.
Law enforcement complained that homeless addicts buy and sell drugs openly and that they see signs of drug addiction increasing throughout the state.
Photos published by the Mail show people on the streets of Portland injecting drugs and passed out in broad daylight.
Oregon decriminalized personal-use amounts of heroin, methamphetamine, LSD, oxycodone, and other drugs following a 2020 ballot measure. Since then, anyone found with such hard drugs is issued a citation with a maximum $100 fine, which is waived if the person calls a hotline to receive a health assessment.
The program was touted as a way to establish and fund addiction recovery centers as an alternative to jail time. Millions of dollars in tax revenue brought in from Oregon's legal marijuana industry were to be used for treatment.
The first year, tickets were issued to 1,885 people for personal possession. But only 91 of them, about 1%, called the hotline, reported the nonprofit operator, Lines For Life.
Officials said earlier this month that they had underestimated what it would take to distribute the $300 million in funds for the program. Only $40 million has been spent.
"So clearly, if we were to do it over again, I would have asked for many more staff much quicker in the process," said Steve Allen, Oregon's behavioral health director.
"We were just under-resourced to be able to support this effort, underestimated the work that was involved in supporting something that looked like this, and partly we didn't fully understand it until we were in the middle of it."
Statewide deaths from overdoses also hit an all-time high in 2021 at 1,069. That was a 41% increase over 2020 before the initiative was implemented.
A commission formed to review Portland's government structure voted by a supermajority to send a sweeping slate of reforms to voters in November amid rising dissatisfaction with livability issues and the current leadership structure, the Associated Press reported. While open-air drug use was not listed among the issues in that story, homelessness was, along with crime and rising housing costs.
© 2023 Newsmax. All rights reserved.