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Oregon legislature votes to reverse parts of decriminalization of drugs

Oregon has experienced the largest increase in the country, according to federal data, with a 1,500% increase in overdose deaths since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Published: March 2, 2024 4:31pm

Oregon's legislatures have passed a bipartisan bill undoing a key part of the state’s decriminalization law, and will soon be penalizing people for possession and selling small amounts of drugs such as fentanyl, heroin and cocaine, according to the Washington Examiner.  

The bill passed both chambers of the state legislature on Friday and is headed to the desk of Governor Tina Kotek, who is expected to sign it into law.  

Oregon has experienced the largest increase in the country, according to federal data, with a 1,500% increase in overdose deaths since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The original idea, according to the outlet, was to allow recreational drug use with the intention of keeping drug users out of prison and into rehab. But what they found happening was that many people had no desire to stop using, and with no punishment, they continued to do so.

The push to recriminalize drug use came from business owners, law enforcement officers and residents tired of the “rampant drug use in public.”

The new law will still offer people the chance to go to rehab before facing any charges, but the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon objects.

“People with money, connections, or racial privilege will be most likely to get into limited treatment spaces,” the ACLU statement said. “Black, brown, and low-income people will continue to be jailed at the highest rates.”

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