Oregon’s drug decriminalization law has recently come under fire following an increase in overdose deaths during its slow rollout. However, supporters of the bill claim that the criticism is unjust.
A recent Portland-based DHM Research survey of 500 Oregonians found that around 63 percent believed that the criminal punishment for drug possession needed to be reinstated while supporting continuous funding for treatment programs.
Kristin Olson, a Portland-based trial attorney revealed to Fox News that the situation in Oregon has “turned into an international spectacle” and that everyone in the state was looking at each other and thinking they had made “an enormous mistake.”
Oregon is currently the only state across the nation where possession of small amounts of hard drugs including heroin, meth, and fentanyl for personal use has been decriminalized. Measure 110 was first passed in 2020 and at the time had received 58 percent of voters’ support.
Olson had been among those who had voted in favor of the measure, which she believed resembled Portugal’s decriminalization effort. Under those laws drug users would be sent to mandatory counseling and treatment. However, Oregon’s law changed possession to a Class E violation with a maximum fine of $100 and treatment being completely optional.
Olson has argued that for that reason those caught have no incentive to go into treatment. More than 60 percent of voters surveyed believe that the measure has led to addiction, homelessness, and crime rates increasing.
The DMH survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4% margin of error. While all demographic groups support possession bearing criminal penalties, the support is lowest among 18-29-year-olds and highest among Republicans.