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  • 1440 Daily Digest

Oregon Recriminalization




An Oregon bill to reinstate criminal penalties for hard drugs is heading to Gov. Tina Kotek’s (D) desk. HB 4002 will, if signed, upend a 2020 voter initiative to decriminalize possession of small amounts of fentanyl, heroin, methamphetamine, and other drugs.


The news comes three years after residents voted (58%) to decriminalize hard drugs—the first and only state to do so. Instead, possession was met with a $100 fine or the option to enter treatment. However, drug-related deaths in Oregon have since skyrocketed, on track to surpass 1,250 people last year and up 42% year-over-year in September, compared to a nationwide 2%. Those supporting decriminalization still point to research failing to show an immediate correlation between drug law and overdose fatality rates. If the bill is signed, possession will be punishable by up to 180 days in jail, with options to be redirected to treatment facilities.


The news in Oregon comes as the popularity of decriminalization wanes (support for undoing the law is around 56%). Meanwhile, a recent poll found 40% of voters in Portland list homelessness as their primary concern.

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