Oregon Reconsidering Drug Policies Amid Open-Air Use

A dramatic increase in open-air drug use has Oregon rethinking its decision to legalize hard drug use. These drugs include heroin, cocaine, and fentanyl. The state was the first in the country to do so.

Law enforcement leaders, DAs, and city council members in Oregon are urging legislators to repeal or at least amend Measure 110, the Drug Addiction Treatment and Recovery Act. Proponents of the 2020 Oregon referendum said it would help alleviate the state’s drug overdose and addiction epidemic by directing resources to treatment programs.

Voters agreed.

“Measure 110” argues that even though law enforcement personnel should spend more time on community safety, over 8,000 individuals were arrested in 2017 for the least severe charge of simple drug possession in Oregon. Because they can’t obtain treatment, the same folks were arrested for narcotics possession many times in many cases.

Individuals who possess one gram or less of hard drugs will be fined up to one hundred dollars and issued a citation under the new law. If they contact a 24-hour hotline to get treatment, they may have the fee canceled.

According to Chief Chris Skinner of the Eugene Police Department, under 125 people contacted the hotline even though over 6,000 individuals had been issued tickets. People also won’t face any consequences if they don’t pay the fee.

Skinner informed the Eugene City Council that there isn’t a single individual who has been able to recover from a street citation by using self-assessment, addiction therapies, and, ultimately, wellness programs.

He observed that Oregon is “on track to smash the record for overdose calls for help and shatter the record for overdose fatalities.”

According to a recent Emerson survey, most Oregon voters (56%) would want to see Measure 110 repealed.

To encourage drug abuse treatment, law enforcement authorities are pushing to make drug possession a class A misdemeanor rather than a total repeal of the statute.

The business community voiced several objections. The health of the community, companies, and the economy is taking a significant hit because of the short-sighted policy.

A Democratic state senator from Oregon, Kate Lieber, said, “Everything’s on the table” regarding investigating potential ways to improve the state.