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Drug Abuse in Oregon Skyrockets After Decriminalization 

Drug Abuse in Oregon Skyrockets After Decriminalization 

Drug overdose deaths in the state of Oregon have increased by more than 40% since November of 2020, when residents voted to decriminalize possession of small amounts of hard drugs including cocaine, meth, heroin, and fentanyl. 

Measure 110 made possession of these drugs no more than a Class E violation (similar to a speeding ticket) punishable by a fine of up to $100, though violators can avoid fines if they seek help from an addiction hotline and complete a health assessment.

Unfortunately few if any who call such hotlines are actually enrolled in rehab programs. According to Oregon’s Lund Report, fewer than 1% of offenders who sought help from a hotline actually entered treatment programs.

“It is predictable, was predicted and now, unfortunately, is coming to pass in front of our eyes,” says David Murray, an opponent of Measure 110 who serves as co-director of the Hudson Institute’s Center for Substance Abuse Policy Research. “It is a tragedy and a self-inflicted wound.” 

As reported by Oregon’s Judicial Department, police issued roughly 2,500 tickets for drug possession between November of 2020 and May of 2022. Up to 75% of these tickets resulted in conviction – in most cases simply because the offender failed to appear in court. 

Mike Marshall, Oregon resident and director of advocacy group Oregon Recovers, describes Measure 110 as “putting the cart before the horse.” Fewer people are being arrested on drug charges, sure, but there have been no real improvements in access to treatment.

Measure 110 directed $270 million towards “addiction recovery services,” but little of that sum has actually been used. The 10% that has been handed out has gone towards “harm reduction” programs like Naloxone distribution and needle exchanges. The rest of the money remains in the bank and no action has been taken to expand addiction recovery services or residential treatment capacity, argues Marshall.

“Measure 110 was never intended to solve the addiction crisis…It was intended to end the war on drugs and fund recovery, but it was never going to deal with the challenge of access to treatment,” laments Marshall, who insists that a single individual must be put in charge of coordinating the state’s efforts to reduce addiction and improve access to recovery to progress to be made.

“Many Oregonians and lawmakers believe that Measure 110 funding will help address the addiction crisis by expanding access to treatment,” he continues. “But Measure 110 funding cannot be used for prevention, nor will it fund any new treatment beds.”

According to the latest National Survey on Drug Use and Health, Oregon ranks second-highest in the nation for substance abuse with nearly 20% of adult residents reporting drug addiction. In 2020, Oregon ranked dead last in terms of access to treatment for drug addiction.

In 2018, when Oregon Governor Kate Brown (D) declared addiction a public health crisis, the state was spending less than 1% of its budget on prevention methods. 

The coronavirus pandemic further impacted the state’s ability to offer help to addicts as residential treatment facilities were forced to cut capacity and/or divert resources towards making protective gear. Compared to pre-COVID figures, the total number of adult and youth residential treatment beds available is down 40% and 60%, respectively.

“The pandemic has really hurt a number of programs,” argues Reginald Richardson Sr., director of Oregon’s Drug and Alcohol Policy Commission. “We only have one adolescent program left in the state.”

Alcoholism has also increased in Oregon over the past years, nearly doubling in 2020 when residents were trapped inside due to COVID lockdowns. Alcohol-related deaths are up by more than 70% and roughly 12% of Oregon residents ages 12 and older admit they have problems with alcohol.

Alcohol abuse was further exacerbated by COVID policies that allowed alcoholic beverages “to-go” and dramatically increased the availability of packaged beer and kegs, notes Marshall. 

Simultaneous with the rise drug and alcohol abuse is an uptick in petty theft, violence between gangs, and other crimes. 

“What we’re absolutely seeing is that as drug possession has been decriminalized, property crimes have increased and so has violent crime,” says Washington County District Attorney Kevin Barton. In 2021, the city of Portland reached an all-time high for murders with 90 people being killed. 

Author’s Note: Oregon lawmakers don’t seem to realize the power of addiction and the power of addicts to recruit new users – especially children. Of course easing restrictions on drugs is going to result in more abuse. This is a tragedy.


Oregon’s drug decriminalization effort a ‘tragedy’ 

Oregon’s Measure 110 is falling short, according to some advocates for addiction recovery 

Addiction to drugs, alcohol depends in Oregon, report shows 

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  1. frank stetson

    Good article to highlight the issue of liberal drug policies in the Northwest. IMO, this exemplifies the issue of good intentions on a regional basis exacerbating a national problem. Or a good idea with a terrible implementation.

    Fact is the Northwest liberalism ran headfirst into the nation. If you are an addict, why not migrate to the Northwest where your lifestyle fits better than most cities and states. Free stuff, care, medication, the works. Worse yet, the Northwest economy has tilted a bit to serve the new “market.” Therefore when these areas now attempt to add things, to change things, there seems to be a vested interest against every motion. For example, if you decide free housing for “druggies” should be toned down or ended, there is some business that survives by building this type of housing. Same is true for many aspects of what they have done here.

    So not only are they a mecca for the end customer, they are also the lifeblood of a number of industries from drug-housing to clinics to drug-makers, you name it.

    It’s a good idea done very badly. The bad is not all their fault, they just live in a country that has a different set of drug laws and social services.

    Good article, but for your close, Alice, where you attempt to slide in a new idea: “the power of addicts to recruit new users – especially children?” WTF does this come from, your heart? It’s not in the story, there are no facts there to support it, and do you really think a avid heroin user is trolling for our kids? To what purpose ==== to fill the void left by their dead friends? You Trumplicant’s just have twisted knickers over grooming. Everything is about grooming…… I could see drug dealers maybe, but addicts? Are you sure they could even get it together to groom anything? Even a horse?

    I’ll tell you some terrible grooming going on, right here in River City, with a capitol T and that rhymes with me, and methinks you be crazy….about grooming but missed the biggest groom of all. With the Trumplicant passions and activist actions against teaching CRT, our real history, slavery, it turns out the right is grooming our children to be tomorrow’s white supremacists. How’s that for some grooming. Note that White Supremacy has grown 55% during Trump, much of which includes younger members groomed by Trumplicant’s ending any teaching of the history of American slavery CRT, and race relations in America.

    • Joe Gilbertson

      Whatever you subsidize you get more of. More addicts, more homeless, liberals don’t seem to understand the concept. BTW Florida is an ideal place for homeless, and it used to be a problem in places. Now it is much less. For a while a city near me was the pill capital of the country and had more treatment centers per square inch than anywhere in the world. Thanks to successive governors who know better, this is now much less a problem.

      I don’t believe it was a good idea done very badly. It was a bad idea done rather efficiently, which made it worse.

      Children? For substance abusers “abuse treatment admissions aged 18 to 30 with known age of initiation information (74.0 percent) began substance use at the age of 17 or younger; 10.2 percent initiated use at the age of 11 or younger.” When you decrease enforcement, drugs become much easier for children to get. And in case you are not aware, addicts are often dealers, addiction is expensive and addicts prey on the weak.

      Your post was cogent until the last paragraph. You should not have had that last shot of whiskey.

    • tpm

      Let them OD and die wgaf about these junkies.

    • Micala

      Oregon state is where ALL THE FLOWER CHILDREN OF THE 70’s moved and gathered! Most of those flower children were POTHEADS with several other drugs mixed in/and alcohol! Now what we are seeing is the Flower Children’s OFFSPRING that is running that disastrous state!! When you have generation after generation that has been high on drugs or alcohol — or both simultaneously — how do you expect any official can control the damage done by all those years of insanity?? You can’t!

      STUPIDITY IS THE RESULT OF GENERATIONS OF DRUG/ALCOHOL ABUSE. There is NO ONE there that has a normal mentality that can FIX THAT MESS IN THEIR GOVERNMENT OR THAT STATE! Perhaps it would be better if Oregon just silently slid into the Pacific Ocean never to be seen again. Believe me, no one there would even know it was happening because they are strung out on drugs or passed out on booze.

      SO SO SAD — but this is an old issue with Flower Children and their offspring. Children mirror what they see in their parents….how can you fix something that is so broken?

  2. frank stetson

    “Whatever you subsidize you get more of. More addicts, more homeless, liberals don’t seem to understand the concept.” Oh, fuck you Joe. It’s a problem in the Northwest, been like that for a decade, it’s not the Nation or the Democratic party, it’s the Northwest. Washington and Oregon to be exact. And most Democrats should admit it’s a failed experiment. It’s not all the State’s fault; they are surrounded by people needing the services they offer so it’s an attraction for those people.

    And sure, they got more addicts, homeless, etc. ——> but those folks mostly came from place like where you live. They migrated. You should be happy, they left you.

    And get off the subsidize bit. Republicans are the biggest subsidizers and stimulators of all time. Freaking Trump borrowed more than any other President ever. You just don’t understand your own concept when looking in the mirror.

    States with biggest drug problem, top ten, include: Missouri, West Virginia, Michigan, Alabama, Indiana, and Arkansas. Hardly a liberal-only issue.

    “I don’t believe it was a good idea done very badly. It was a bad idea done rather efficiently, which made it worse.” Can’t argue with your opinion. Don’t agree, but can’t argue. Of course you can’t argue with mine either. At least not with facts. Joe hates facts. Numbers….ewe…. How’s the Fed rate increase hitting those debt payments. Found out I have to pay more on my fixed 30-year mortgage too. Apparently they are now using the Gilbertson theory of floating interest on fixed contracts. Talk about a whisky addled though process…..

    You offer no proof of grooming. Age of acceptance does not prove grooming. And IF Alice had said “dealer,” she might have been on to something. But she did not. Are you suggesting we need to assume what Alice is thinking because we can’t trust what she writes? Seems a bit harsh. But good of you to come to her defense again Joe. You’re very special in that regard.

    “When you decrease enforcement, drugs become much easier for children to get.” What’s next, just say no? Seen it, felt it, been there, didn’t work either.

    One last time Joe. I rarely drink. Whiskey would be the last thing I tried. But it’s funny that you can’t see sarcasm when it smacks you upside the head. You actually bought Trumplicant White Supremacy grooming? That’s as stupid as Alice’s statement. Oh wait, that was the point…..

    ““Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit but the highest form of intelligence,” Oscar Wilde. But yeah, I guess you felt the cut. Just like I do when you suggest I am a drunkard. Perhaps it’s your old heroin habit kicking up again. Or have you stopped beating your wife? And least my cut had a point. Yours’s was just intended to hurt.

    • Kent

      Thanks democrats. Just keep destroying the country

    • Micala

      Haven’t you figured it out yet? Joe Biden is an incompetent FOOL that is slowly exposing our Nation to dangerous levels of ANGER AND IDIOCY! He has no idea of what he is doing, but just plugs along muttering, slobbering and looking like his brain left him — it did! Everything that comes out of his mouth is insanity, rubbish! No wonder we are the laughing stock of the World countries wondering why that old FOSSIL is still in our White House instead of being removed and replaced by someone who knows what they are doing!

      Democrats are the stupidest, most corrupt POS because they stole the 2020 Election and INSTALLED A FEEBLE MINDED OLD FOOL TO ATTEMPT TO LEAD OUR NATION — and he has FAILED SO MUCH NOW THAT EVEN DEMOCRATS ARE LEAVING THAT PARTY IN SHAME! Dems are going to need more than $$ to keep their seats in Congress because Americans despise and no longer trust any democrat in our Govt. Times are a changing and it’s time the Dems are kicked to the curb for eons! They can’t lead anyone out of a paper bag, much less try to run a large country! Shame shame on the Dems for putting ole Joe boy someplace where he doesn’t ever belong — he better think twice before running in 2024, because his dementia is already mega, two more years he’ll be functioning on absolute air, no brain activity at all!

  3. longtail

    Actually it’s two early to judge the success or failure of the Oregon program to channel users into rehab rather than jail. ODs are up largely due to the proliferation of fentanyl . Portugal’s program is more stringent and more successful so far. You don’t have to be an Oregon liberal to know that the war on drugs was lost years ago and new solutions need to be found.

  4. Micala

    Now think about what if DJT was sitting in the White House where he should be legally TODAY!

    (1) Afghanistan removal of troops would never have happened leaving millions of dollars of military equipment as well as Americans stranded inside where the Taliban now rules!

    (2) Our Southern Border Wall would be completed forcing illegals to figure out a different way to invade our country! Now we have terrorists, besides illegals crossing into our Nation and escaping to all parts of the U.S.! Now doesn’t that make you feel safer?? NO! And Biden is still FLYING ILLEGALS UNDER THE COVER OF NIGHT TO VARIOUS STATES ACROSS THE U.S.

    (3) There are looney tune people walking around blowing our children away while they are at school! THAT IS 100% WRONG ON ALL LEVELS, yet this is the environment the Biden administration creates — where people just don’t care or they are so messed up from COVID crap that they strike out at our innocent children! Those retards wouldn’t dare fire on a bunch of grown up military or any adults because they knew deep down inside that they might get hurt, so they killed young defenseless children! THIS WOULD NEVER HAVE HAPPENED IF DJT WAS IN OFFICE!

    Democrats = DEATH & DISASTER
    Republicans =. Get off their butts and push back to fix this disaster created by the democrat party!

    Americans =. DO NOT VOTE FOR ANY DEMOCRAT IN 2022 NOR 2024 IF YOU WANT TO SAVE OUR COUNTRY! They are poison to the American Patriotic Ideology and will cluelessly destroy our Nation while lunching in the Rose Garden!!

    • Frank stetson

      Or dining at the Y

      • Frank stetson

        That is the fake frank stetson, not the real frank. Joe’s site allows doppelgängers, except for Joe. He is protected but won’t protect his readers.

        • Betty

          Quit lying Frank