One of the most “woke” states in the union, Oregon, is rethinking its progressive move to decriminalize heroin and fentanyl.
Support for Measure 110, which was intended to make it easier for addicts to seek treatment, is waning, according to The Telegraphas residents realize that allowing deadly drug use to go unpunished may not be the best path to recovery.
“Only a fraction of addicts ‘ticketed’ for drug offenses progress to rehab instead of going to jail, preferring instead to receive a $100 fine,” reports The Telegraph.
When Measure 110 was voted on in a referendum in November 2020, 58% of Oregonians supported it. Three years later, public opinion has nearly done a complete 180, with 56 percent now supporting a repeal, according to an Emerson poll.
— BPR (@BIZPACReview) November 4, 2020
Entrepreneur Matt Siegmund owns Gardner Floor Covering in Eugene, and while the homeless have long camped out under his awning, Measure 110 took the problem to a whole new level.
“It’s been pretty awful,” he told The Telegraph.
“In the past, we dealt with older drunks, but since Measure 110 was passed, people are younger and more belligerent,” he explained. “They have been defecating and urinating. For the past three weeks, the police have been sweeping up the homeless so that my staff and I can come to work.”
The state, Siegmund said, decriminalized drugs before launching a plan to help addicts.
“It’s not helping our business,” he said. “Measure 110 was supposed to get treatment, but the infrastructure isn’t there to support it.”
“Far from solving the problem,” reports The Telegraph, “there is evidence that the liberal experiment is attracting addicts from elsewhere and the state, which lacks the capacity to provide treatment for thousands of addicts, is has seen overflow”.
“I have friends who work in Social Security,” Siegmund said, “and they say only 30 percent of the IDs they see are from Oregon.”
The possibly naive premise behind Measure 110 was the belief that when hit with a $100 fine, drug users would pick up a phone, call a self-help line, and enter a treatment program to avoid paying it .
Eugene Police Chief Chris Skinner said that while Oregan handed out approximately 6,000 citations, fewer than 125 users dialed the self-help line.
“We don’t have a single really successful example of someone going from a citation issued on the street to self-assessment and addiction services to a place of wellness,” Skinner told the Eugene City Council.
Oregon, he warned, “was on the verge of breaking the record for overdose calls and breaking the record for overdose deaths.”
“Police officers and firefighters are administering Narcan, life-saving Narcan at an alarming rate,” he said.
— BPR (@BIZPACReview) September 27, 2023
The police do not want to completely reverse Measure 110, but they want to make drug possession a crime again so that addicts can receive court treatment.
State companies want things to change.
Tiffany Edwards, vice president of policy and community development for the Eugene Chamber of Commerce, pointed out the measure’s “flaws.”
“When Measure 110 was passed, in our community we started to see a significant increase in crime and in particular outdoor drug use,” he told The Telegraph. “There have been many complaints from the business world. It is having a serious impact on our businesses, economic development and the well-being of our community.”
“We recognized that while Measure 110 coincided with the explosion of fentanyl in the US in general, I think what we learned was that there were a lot of flaws in the way the measure was implemented,” he said.
But not everyone wants to go back to the failed experiment.
Prosecuting drug users would “return to a harmful system where people are arrested and imprisoned for drug possession,” the Drug Policy Alliance argued.
“Prisoning people,” the organization said, “is a waste of resources that results in a revolving door of arrest and incarceration that never addresses the root causes of drug use.”
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