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Oregon governor to sign bill recriminalizing drug use


Oregon governor to sign bill recriminalizing drug use By Reuters

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Published Mar 08, 2024 07:23PM ET
Updated Mar 08, 2024 08:06PM ET

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Portland police officer David Baer holds up a blue oxycodone pill and a small bag of fentanyl that he just confiscated from a woman getting ready to smoke them in her car in downtown Portland, Oregon, U.S. February 7, 2024. These blue pills ar

By Daniel Trotta

(Reuters) – Oregon Governor Tina Kotek on Friday vowed to sign into law a bill that recriminalizes drug use, more than three years after voters approved the most liberal drug law in the country, one that decriminalized the possession of small amounts of drugs.

“I intend to sign House Bill 4002 and the related prevention and treatment investments within the next 30 days,” Kotek, a Democrat, said in a statement.

The reversal, which can impose a misdemeanor sentence of 180 days for drug possession, was an acknowledgment that Measure 110, approved by voters in November 2020, failed in its approach to treat addiction as a public health matter, not a crime.

Even as the state poured money from cannabis taxes into recovery services, cities like Portland experienced people openly consuming drugs in front of stores, trendy restaurants and hotels, many of them crouched over torch lighters held up to sheets of tinfoil or meth pipes.

Meanwhile Oregon’s drug overdose deaths, which increased by a third from 2019 to 2020, rose another 44% in 2021, according to state figures.

Under Measure 110, instead of arresting drug users, police could issue $100 citations along with drug treatment information. But there were no ramifications for declining treatment, and state data showed only 4% of those who received citations called the hotline.

In November 2020, Measure 110 won support from 58% of voters. But by August last year, a survey by Emerson (NYSE:EMR) College found 56% of Oregonians supported a total repeal and 64% supported changes.

While HB 4002 reimposes penalties, it also enables local governments and law-enforcement agencies to choose whether they want to offer users the opportunity to pursue drug treatment before going to jail.

Nearly two dozen of Oregon’s 36 counties have agreed to opt into the treatment-first approach, the Oregonian reported, citing state lawmakers.

Oregon governor to sign bill recriminalizing drug use

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