Oregon's Hard Drug Decriminalization Leads To Massive Increase in OD Deaths: 'Tragedy'

Oregon's Hard Drug Decriminalization Leads To Massive Increase in OD Deaths: 'Tragedy'

The state of Oregon’s move to decriminalize hard drugs has been disastrous, leading to a massive uptick in drug overdoses and is already being called a “tragedy.”

“The streets of downtown Portland, Oregon, resemble an open-air drug market,” Fox News Digital reported Thursday. “Heroin, meth and fentanyl use is rampant and often visible on city streets. Portland police officers drive by homeless addicts buying and using.”

The report noted further that instead of decreasing drug use — the stated purpose behind the decriminalization effort — drug use and drug addiction are actually both rising, according to law enforcement sources.

Oregon has ‘earned’ the status of becoming the state with the second-highest number of drug-addicted adults, with nearly one-in-five hooked on narcotics and other drugs.

Fox News Digital notes further:

In November 2020, voters overwhelmingly passed Measure 110. The Drug Addiction Treatment and Recovery Act secured 58% of the votes and decriminalized possession of small amounts of hard drugs such as heroin, meth, cocaine and fentanyl. 

The new law made possession of those substances no more than a Class E violation, the equivalent of a traffic ticket punishable by a maximum $100 fine. But the fine is dismissed when someone who is fined calls a help hotline, Lines for Life, and completes a health assessment. The idea is to connect drug abusers with services and treatment instead of putting them behind bars.  

Now, 16 months into what became the country’s first experiment of this nature, the statistics are horrible: Drug overdose deaths reached an all-time high last year with 1,069, or a 41 percent increase over the previous year. Worse, very few Oregonians are seeking treatment for the drug abuse and addiction; The Lund Report shows that after just one year, only 136 people have sought treatment or less than 1 percent of those targeted by Measure 110.

However, Fox News Digital reports that the actual numbers may even be lower.

“It is predictable, was predicted and now, unfortunately, is coming to pass in front of our eyes,” said David Murray, a senior fellow in the Hudson Institute who advised drug czars in two different presidential administrations. “It is a tragedy and a self-inflicted wound.”

According to the Oregon Judicial Department, police around the state had written 2,576 tickets for drug possession, 75 percent of which resulted in convictions mostly because the offender failed to show up in court.

Dwight Holton, CEO of Lines for Life, tells Fox News only 116 people have called the help hotline, with more than half — 66 callers — saying they only wanted verification that they had called in order to void the ticket and fine.

Twenty-six were already in services of some kind and didn’t want any more, he added.

“About 20% — 24 people — were not previously involved in (addiction) services and wanted resources, so we connected them to relevant services,” Holton said.

Most are not surprised by the poor showing and awful drug results including Mike Marshall, co-founder and director of Oregon Recovers.

“It was never designed to reduce our addiction rates, so it was never designed to deal with our addiction crisis,” Marshall said. “It was always meant to deal with the war on drugs.”

So while drugs have been decriminalized, other crimes have increased.

“What we’re absolutely seeing is that as drug possession has been decriminalized, property crimes have increased and so has violent crime,” said District Attorney Kevin Barnett of Washington County. He also said property theft has gone way up as users steal to feed their addictions.

Fox News adds: “Portland, the state’s largest city, set an all-time record with 90 murders in 2021. Police in Multnomah County link these to Measure 110, saying there’s been a rise in homicides tied to drug turf wars between gangs.”


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