Oregon’s Decriminalization Law Linked to 13x Increase in Opioid Deaths

In Oregon, as the state marks the three-year anniversary of the passage of Measure 110, which decriminalized hard drugs such as heroin, meth, and cocaine, concerns have arisen over a significant increase in opioid-related deaths. The measure, approved with 58% support in 2019, aimed to shift the focus from criminal punishment to healthcare services for those struggling with addiction.

This year, opioid-related deaths in Oregon have surged to 955, a sharp rise from 280 in 2019. Critics argue that the observed increase in fatalities suggests unintended consequences of the decriminalization policy. Michael Bock, a private security guard in Portland, lamented the situation, noting a stark change since Measure 110’s passage. Bock, who has witnessed an increase in drug-related deaths, emphasized the personal toll, describing those affected as friends, brothers, fathers, and sisters.

Public opinion in Oregon appears to be shifting, with an August poll from Emerson College revealing that 56% of respondents now support overturning Measure 110. Nearly two-thirds of Oregonians expressed support for repealing parts of the measure to reinstate penalties for drug possession. Concerns about community safety and an alleged exacerbation of homelessness were cited by 50% and 54% of respondents, respectively.

Measure 110’s original intent was to keep individuals struggling with addiction out of the prison system by providing health services. However, the reported surge in opioid-related deaths has prompted calls for a reassessment of the policy. Critics had initially raised concerns about the experimental nature of Measure 110 and questioned the state’s preparedness for such a significant policy shift.

Michael Bock, speaking from his on-the-ground experience, called for change, characterizing the current situation as tragic. The debate over Measure 110 underscores the complexities of drug policy decisions, requiring a nuanced approach that balances public health goals with potential societal consequences. The evolving public sentiment and reported negative outcomes suggest a need for ongoing evaluation and adaptation in Oregon’s drug policy landscape.
Fox News


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