Oregon( e ) by Tom Reynolds
Oregon is the place where people go who are too radical for California.
Oregon was the first state to decriminalize the possession of drugs. Police can no longer arrest someone for possession of small amounts of heroin, methamphetamine, LSD, oxycodone and other hard drugs under a ballot measure passed by a wide margin in November 2020. Instead, those found in possession face a $100 fine or a health assessment that could lead to addiction counseling.
Note: If they can’t pay what Is basically a speeding ticket, drug users had to undergo an assessment they don’t want to determine if they have an addiction they don’t want to break so they could undergo addiction counseling they don’t want. What could go wrong?
But, supporters of the measure were ecstatic. (Notice how similar their comments and predictions were to Democrat comments every time a new gun control law is passed.)
Decriminalizing hard drugs was hailed it as a revolutionary move for the United States. Supporters said that criminalizing drug possession had not worked.
'Today, the first domino of our cruel and inhumane war on drugs has fallen, setting off what we expect to be a cascade of other efforts centering health over criminalization,' said Drug Policy Alliance executive director Kassandra Frederique.
Oregon’s 'Drug Treatment and Recovery Services Fund' was rolling in money thanks to ‘pot taxes’ on the rapidly growing legal marijuana industry. However, some funds were also diverted from other programs and entities that had already received the funds. The ballot measure capped the amount of pot tax revenue that schools, mental health alcoholism & drug services, the state police, and cities & counties received at $45 million annually, with the rest going to the 'Drug Treatment and Recovery Services Fund'.
'In the future, as Oregon's treatment programs reach full funding, the state should evaluate what other services would benefit from our continually growing marijuana tax revenues,' Oregon Education Association (OEA) President John Larson said in an email.
Note: The OEA union represents about 44,000 educators. I wonder what other non-addiction services’ the teacher’s union has in mind to finance with the ‘pot tax’?
The initiative was also expected to help save money by reducing law enforcement costs stemming from arrests. After decriminalization of hard drugs, about 3,700 fewer Oregonians per year were estimated to be convicted of felony or misdemeanor possession of controlled substances, according to estimates by the Oregon Criminal Justice Commission. The measure was also predicted to lead to a 95 percent reduction in racial and ethnic disparities in convictions and arrests, the state commission said.
Oregon was to become Nirvana for the drugs formerly known as illegal.
Or maybe not.
Opioid deaths in Oregon, which were 280 before the de-criminalization of drugs, grew to 955 in 2022. The Portland Police Department’s Bureau of Narcotics and Organized Crime Unit saw a 75% increase in notifications of overdose deaths in 2023 over a year prior. According to the Oregon Health Authority, the state experienced more opioid overdose visits to emergency departments and urgent care centers last year compared to previous years.
Oregon Governor Tina Kotek (Democrat of course) said in a statement, (we) “are grappling with how to respond” to the opioid / fentanyl crisis.
Multnomah County Chair Jessica Vega Pederson (Democrat) and Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler (a ‘moderate Democrat by Oregon standards) each declared a 90-day state of emergency to commit available resources into a unified response to the fentanyl crisis. (Taking money away from some of those ‘revolutionary’ methods hailed two years ago?)
Mayor Wheeler said in a statement: “This is exactly the type of coordinated action needed to make a direct impact and a lasting difference." (This ‘coordinated effort’ sounds a lot like what was promised two years ago about another approach.)
Remember when Portland was synonymous with ‘Defund the police?” Portland Police Bureau has entered into a partnership with the Oregon State Police to jointly patrol downtown streets for fentanyl sales.
At the state level, Democrat lawmakers in Oregon unveiled a sweeping new bill that would undo a key part of the state’s first-in-the-nation drug decriminalization law. The bill would recriminalize the possession of small amounts of drugs as a low-level misdemeanor.
2d Amendment supporters in NY State are accustomed to the same type of hype that accompanied the 2020 decriminalization of drugs and we are also used to the same type of results. After all, the ‘gun control’ laws take guns away from law abiding citizens while leaving criminals virtually untouched; something the gun control proponents do not get!
And in a similar vein, no bail laws and soft on crime prosecutors like Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg promised new approaches to crime. New -yes. Effective-no.
The lesson for all of us is that the Left promises big things when they make big changes to established laws and traditions. Maybe the old ways aren’t so bad? You know, things like “keep and bearing arms” to protect ourselves from criminals and drug addicts who commit crimes. (I differentiate between criminals and drug addicts since, in Oregon, they are not the same.)
Some closing thoughts:
We shouldn’t put all the blame on the decriminalization. After all, Joe Biden opened our southern border to smuggling-at-will and that has certainly contributed to the fentanyl crisis.
Several years before Oregon decriminalized drugs, it also made marijuana legal. NY State has also made marijuana legal. Can we expect the far left, which has utterly failed in their efforts in NY State, to follow Oregon’s lead in spite of Oregon’s failure?
Congresswoman Lauren Boebert introduced a bill (as yet unnumbered) “To…treat illicit fentanyl as a weapon of mass destruction.” This Act may be cited as the ‘‘Fentanyl is a WMD Act’’.” (Maybe Boebert isn’t as crazy as the leftist media tries to portray?)