Another 'Told Ya' So' for Blue State As Oregon Looks to Reverse Hard Drug Decriminalization
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You have to admit, sometimes it is fun to watch liberals’ goofy utopian ideas crash and burn around them. The problem is that their goofy utopian ideas affect people who live where they are implemented and want nothing to do with them. The latest example of lefty ideas gone wrong comes to us from the great state of Oregon. In November 2020, Measure 110, an initiative that would decriminalize hard drugs like heroin and fentanyl, was supported by 58 percent of voters and went into effect in 2021. Three years later, 56 percent of voters say they would now back a repeal of the initiative.

For liberals, intentions are what seem to matter most, and Measure 110 is no exception. The original thinking behind the measure was that if drugs like heroin and fentanyl were decriminalized, it would make access to treatment much easier. Under the initiative, addicts would receive “tickets” that would result in a fine of $100. No word on how drug addicts would actually pay that fine. The fine would be waived if the offender called a self-help line to seek treatment. 

But, as usual, the reality is much different than the imagined outcome of lefty ideas. Under the initiative, roughly 6,000 people throughout the state were ticked, but only 125 of those called the self-help line to seek treatment. Chris Skinner is the Chief of Police in Eugene, Oregon, and he paints an even bleaker picture of what the initiative has not accomplished, saying:

“We don’t have even really one successful example of somebody that went from a citation issued on the street to self-assessment to addiction services to a place of wellness.” 

Skinner added that Oregon is “on pace to shatter the record for overdose calls for service and shatter the record for overdose deaths. Police officers and firefighters are administering Narcan, life-saving Narcan at an alarming rate.” So much for “If you make it legal, they will seek treatment.” In addition to addicts affecting businesses by using the sidewalk as a restroom, the initiative may actually be attracting more drug users to the state. With more drug users coming to the state, the treatment system is being overwhelmed. 

The thought among law enforcement is that a total repeal of Measure 110 might not be the answer. They would like to see drug possession become a class A misdemeanor, a move that might urge addicts to seek treatment. Jason Edmiston is the Chief of Police in Hermiston, Oregon. He said:

“We don’t believe a return to incarceration is the answer, but restoring a [class A] misdemeanor for possession with diversion opportunities is critically important.”

As might be expected, business owners would like to see Measure 110 repealed. Tiffany Edwards is the vice president of policy and community development at the Eugene Chamber of Commerce. She stated what was no doubt the obvious to others, saying, “When measure 110 was passed, we in our community started to see a significant rise in crime and in particular, open-air drug use.” Ya’ don’t say? She added, “There were a lot of complaints from the business community. It is having a severe impact on our businesses, economic development and the wellness of our community.” Edwards also commented that the passage of Measure 110 came right on the heels of the epidemic of fentanyl coming across the U.S. southern border and its use. Because of this, flaws in the implementation of the initiative were quickly revealed. 

But not everyone is on board with repealing an initiative that many feel is not only not working but perhaps making things worse. The Drug Policy Alliance is a group that supports initiatives like Measure 110, saying that prosecuting drug offenders would “go back to a harmful system where people are arrested and put in jail for drug possession.” Their statement went on to say, “Jailing people is a waste of resources that results in a revolving door of arrest and incarceration that never addresses the root causes of drug use.” 

Oregon Republicans recently sent a letter to Oregon Democrat Gov. Tina Kotek and have urged her to call a special session of the legislature to address the drug problems plaguing the state. In the letter, they stated that “Treatment should be a requirement, not a suggestion.” But in a state where Republicans are vastly outnumbered, Democrat State Senator Kate Leibor said of finding ways to keep the streets of Oregon safe, “Everything’s on the table.” 

A measure to recriminalize hard drugs like heroin and fentanyl could be on the ballot sometime next year. 

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