Critics have raised concerns about Oregon’s drug decriminalization law after witnessing a rise in overdose deaths during its gradual implementation. Nonetheless, advocates of the legislation argue that the criticism is unfounded.
According to a recent survey conducted by DHM Research in Portland, approximately 63 percent of 500 Oregon residents believed that the penalties for drug possession should be reintroduced, while still supporting the ongoing funding of treatment programs.
Portland-based trial attorney Kristin Olson expressed to Fox News that the situation in Oregon has become a widely observed and criticized event, both nationally and internationally. She added that people within the state are looking at one another, questioning whether they have committed a significant error.
Oregon stands alone as the sole state in the United States that has decriminalized the possession of small quantities of hard drugs, such as heroin, methamphetamine, and fentanyl, for personal use. The approval of Measure 110 in 2020 garnered the support of 58 percent of voters.
Kristin Olson, who had been among those who voted in favor of the measure, drew parallels between Oregon’s law and Portugal’s decriminalization approach. In Portugal, drug users are directed to mandatory counseling and treatment. However, Oregon’s law altered the penalties for possession to a Class E violation, carrying a maximum fine of $100, with treatment being entirely optional.
Olson contends that due to the lack of consequences, individuals caught with drugs have no motivation to seek treatment. A majority of the surveyed voters, over 60 percent, believe that the measure has contributed to a rise in addiction, homelessness, and crime rates.
The DMH survey, which has a margin of error of approximately 4.4%, indicates that all demographic groups express support for criminal penalties on drug possession. However, support is least prominent among individuals aged 18-29, while Republicans exhibit the highest level of support.