After Oregon Recriminalizes Drug Possession, What’s Next For The State’s Drug Policy

Oregon Gov. Tina Kotek (D) signed a bill restoring criminal charges in cases of hard drug possession.

The bill states that possession of small amounts of hard drugs will now result in a misdemeanor charge and a punishment of up to six months in prison and offers rehabilitation to those charged as a possible alternative.

“Courts, Oregon State Police, local law enforcement, defense attorneys, district attorneys, and local behavioral health providers are all critical to these conversations and necessary partners to achieve the vision for this legislation,” Kotek wrote in a letter to state lawmakers, urging them to cooperate in finding a solution.

Oregon voters passed Measure 110, the Drug Decriminalization and Addiction Treatment Initiative, in the 2020 election with the intent to provide more accessible drug treatment for those who have an addiction rather than punishing them with prison time.

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The measure was seen as a potential solution to the state’s climbing numbers of drug overdoses and deaths. However, since the law’s enactment, the state has seen increasing homelessness and fentanyl usage and has reported the second-highest rates of substance abuse in the United States.

Oregon state legislators passed the proposed bill reversing the measure last month.

Many legislators have argued that decriminalizing drug possession was not the solution, and some have said they would “never again” make the same mistake.

Sen. Kate Lieber (D-Portland) said that with this bill, legislators are “doubling down on our commitment to make sure Oregonians have access to the treatment and care that they need.”

Simone Bieglmeier

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