Dem Gov Tries To Clamp Down On Drug Use After Her State Decriminalized Substances

(Photo by Mathieu Lewis-Rolland/Getty Images)

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Robert Schmad Contributor
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Democratic Oregon Gov. Tina Kotek is pushing to criminalize public drug use three years after the state voted to allow personal possession of most drugs, according to Oregon Public Broadcasting.

Kotek is asking her state legislature to pass a law that would make it illegal to use drugs in public, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported. Oregon decriminalized personal possession of almost all drugs in 2020 in a move initially hailed by left-wing advocates, but has been deeply unpopular with people living in Oregon.

The recommendations, which also include calls for more police officers and a moratorium on new taxes, came following deliberations from a task force of Portland stakeholders Kotel assembled and tasked with improving conditions in the city, according to Oregon Public Broadcasting.

“Restoring this to a crime is not about putting people in jail or adding a crime to the record, which would hinder their success in the future, it’s about getting people the help to break free from the cycle of addiction,” Lincoln County Sheriff Curtis Landers said at a legislative hearing on Oregon’s drug policies last month. (RELATED: Dem Governor Creates Task Force To Tackle San Francisco’s Drug Problem — Again)

Drugs decriminalized by Oregon included cocaine, heroin, oxycodone and meth. Since then, Oregon has treated drug possession in small amounts like a parking violation, a civil offense that carries a $100 fine, according to NPR.

While the referendum was pitched as a way to help address addiction and homelessness in the state, both problems have worsened significantly since 2020.

Oregon saw one of the largest increases in the country between 2020 and 2022, according to a Department of Housing and Urban Development report. The number of people without homes in Oregon grew by nearly 23%, or 3,304 people, during that period, with the homeless population only increasing by 0.3% in the United States during the same timeframe.

Between June 2022 and June 2023, the number of overdose deaths in Oregon grew by 23%, the second largest increase recorded, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Oregon’s death numbers were much worse than the nation at large, which saw a 0.6% decline in overdose deaths.

A photo on December 15, 2020 shows a box filled with one-kilo "bricks" of cocaine after a transfer to a police pickup truck from a patrol vessel that transported the cocaine from a remote outer atoll to Majuro for confiscation and destruction. (Photo by GIFF JOHNSON/AFP via Getty Images)

(Photo by GIFF JOHNSON/AFP via Getty Images)

More than 60% of voters think the measure has made drug addiction, homelessness and crime worse, according to a poll conducted in April. Sixty-three percent support bringing back criminal penalties for drug possession, per the same poll.

Drug Policy Alliance, a Soros-linked organization, was a major player in the initial push to decriminalize drugs in Oregon.

Kotek isn’t the first Democratic official in Oregon to sour on drug decriminalization. Portland’s city council in September passed an emergency ordinance to ban the open consumption of hard drugs in public.

Kotek’s office did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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