Liberal State Effort To Decriminalize Hard Drugs Turns Disastrous, Critics Say

According to ABC’s KATU, critics of Oregon’s Drug Addiction Treatment and Recovery Act have voiced their disapproval at the failure to stop hard drug addiction to substances such as meth, heroin and cocaine.

In 2020, the act was intended to make hard drugs less criminal and provide treatment for addicts. However, overdose rates have risen 20% since 2022, KATU reported. Although the act was intended to reduce stigma around addiction and encourage addicts to seek treatment, the majority of state-owned addicts have not utilized the available treatment options.

Christine Drazan, GOP Oregon gubernatorial hopeful, referred to the Act, also known as Measure 110 as a “terrible Idea” because it made the addiction crisis much worse, KATU reported. Betsey Johnson was a former veteran lawmaker who is now an unaffiliated candidate for governor. She called Measure 110 a “failed experiment.”

According to Scott Winkels (lobbyist for the League of Oregon Cities), people have lost patience. KATU reported. Winkels stated that people will need to see improvements. “If you live in a community that is constantly finding needles, how many times can you see one in a park before losing your cool?”

Steve Allen, the Oregon Health Authority’s behavioral health director, acknowledged that the bill was unsuccessful but believed that a “true landmark” had been achieved as $302 million more is being sent to rehabilitation facilities, KATU reported.

Although funding is growing, preexisting treatment options have not been able to entice addicts to recovery. One hundred thirty-six out of 16,000 addicted people who sought treatment were successful in accessing services. According to KATU, only 9,600 addicts were able to access “harm reduction” services, which include clean needles and overdose medication, housing, and peer support. 2,400 also received housing.

Oregon law states that anyone caught with hard drugs will be issued a $100 citation. KATU reported that while the fine can be waived if they call the hotline for health assessment, the majority of the 3,100 tickets issued were ignored.