Oregon Backpedals on Liberal Drug Law After Overdoses Skyrocket

(RepublicanDaily.org) – After three years, Oregon has backtracked on an earlier law decriminalizing possession of illegal substances.

The state government, both its executive and legislative branches, voted to re-criminalize possession, after the state experienced a sharp spike in both the number of drug addicts and deaths from drug overdoses.

In light of this, the Beaver State’s Democratic governor, Tina Kotek, has signed a bill that reintroduces criminal penalties for drug possession. Those found with small amounts of illegal substances will be subject to probation as well as 180 days in jail. However, Governor Kotek said that addicts would still be given a path for treatment.

Oregon has joined other liberal regions such as San Francisco and Washington, D.C., who have reframed their previously lax stance on drug usage to a tougher approach.

Oregon’s drug decriminalization law, known as Measure 110, was experimental in nature. It was one of the most progressive the U.S. has seen, removing criminal punishments for possession of substances like cocaine, methamphetamine (meth), and heroin.

However, in recent years, Oregon cities like Portland have become infamous for images of people openly using drugs on city streets, which have been used to describe the dire straits surrounding the opioid crisis in the U.S.

Speaking to the New York Times, Ted Wheeler, the mayor of Portland, said that the fact of the matter was that “addiction rates and overdose rates skyrocketed.”

The experimental law was ostensibly modeled on progressive cities like Portugal, who have taken a different tack to approaching the drug problem. Instead of treating it as a criminal matter, which is typically handled by law enforcement, the experimental approach treated drug addiction as a public health problem. This meant that previous “offenders” would instead by given pathways to rehabilitation and recovery, instead of spending time in jail.

Still, there are still public health and addiction recovery advocates who support the experimental law. They argue that not only was the rolling back of Measure 110 premature, but also say that the state failed in a number of key areas in its implementation of the law.

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