Oregon governor signs a bill recriminalizing drug possession

PBS is reporting that “Oregon’s Democratic Gov. Tina Kotek on Monday signed into law a bill that recriminalizes the possession of small amounts of drugs, ending a first-in-the-nation experiment with decriminalization that was hobbled by implementation issues.”

“Measure 110, approved by voters with 58% support in 2020, made the personal use possession of illicit drugs such as heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine only punishable by a ticket and a maximum fine of $100. Supporters said treatment is more effective than jail in helping people overcome addiction and that the decadeslong approach of arresting people for possessing and using drugs hasn’t worked.” (PBS)

The law directed hundreds of millions of dollars of the state’s cannabis tax revenue toward addiction services. But the money was slow to get out the door and health authorities, already grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic, struggled to establish the new treatment system, state auditors found. At the same time, the fentanyl crisis began to spark an increase in deadly overdoses.

GOP leaders had long sought to overhaul Measure 110. After Kotek’s signing, House Minority Leader Jeff Helfrich said the law illustrated how Republicans “stood united and forced Democrats” to restore criminal penalties. (PBS)