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Residents fed up with Oregon’s out-of-control drug laws issue ultimatum

via CBS Mornings
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A coalition of political and business leaders in Oregon is pushing for the reform of the state’s drug laws following the decriminalization of drugs in 2020.

However, public opinion has shifted, with polls indicating a desire to recriminalize possession of hard drugs and ban public drug use.

The coalition aims to prioritize diversion, treatment, and recovery over prosecution and jail, while also seeking improved oversight of tax dollars and tougher penalties for drug dealing. (Trending: Melania Trump Announces Big Change For 2024)

Supporters argue that the current law has led to thousands receiving substance use treatment, peer support services, and harm reduction supplies.

Former director of the Oregon Department of Corrections Max Williams said, “Oregonians still believe that the best strategy is a minimal use of criminal justice resources to encourage people into treatment and recovery.”

“But they also realize the tools that we’ve currently given law enforcement . . . are not working,” he continued.

Portland trial attorney Kristin Olson said, “Oregon has turned into an international spectacle, and I think we looked at each other and realized that we made an enormous mistake.”

“Writing somebody a ticket that is oftentimes less than what you would get for parking illegally in downtown Portland is not motivating people to seek treatment and recovery,” explained Max Williams.

“The data for that is overwhelming,” he continued. “Nobody’s looked at Oregon and said, ‘Wow, this is a model of fabulous success,'” added the former lawmaker.

On the other hand, opponents fear that a return to criminalization would stigmatize those in need of help and argue that there is no evidence linking decriminalization to fatal overdose rates.

The coalition is prepared to bring their proposal to voters if the legislature does not act promptly.

Tera Hurst, executive director of the Oregon Health Justice Recovery Alliance, said, “It re-stigmatizes people who need help. People are less likely to get help when they are stigmatized.”

“Nobody’s looked at Oregon and said, ‘Wow, this is a model of fabulous success,'” said Williams.

“If anything, a state like our friends to the north in Washington, I think, quickly moved to reinstate criminal sanctions associated with possession of these hard drugs because they did not want to follow the pattern that Oregon had followed,” he added.

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