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Oregon to recriminalize illegal drugs, with offenders seeing at least six months in jail or rehabilitation

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Governor Tina Kotek of Oregon has announced her intention to sign legislation that will reintroduce criminal penalties for the possession of small quantities of illicit drugs, marking a significant shift from the state’s brief experiment with drug policy liberalization.

The announcement was made on Thursday, indicating a departure from Measure 110, a voter-approved initiative from 2020 that decriminalized possession of most illegal substances and allocated a portion of Oregon’s marijuana tax revenue to fund addiction services.

The new bill, House Bill 4002, is a response to the dramatic increase in addiction and overdose deaths witnessed in Oregon over the past two years.

“I intend to sign House Bill 4002 and the related prevention and treatment investments within the next 30 days. My focus as governor is on the implementation of this measure,” Kotek stated, as reported by Fox News.

HB 4002 presents a critical juncture for individuals caught with substances such as fentanyl and methamphetamine, offering them the choice between facing criminal charges or seeking treatment. The legislation aims to reclassify the possession of small amounts of drugs like heroin and methamphetamine as misdemeanors, subject to up to six months in jail. It further authorizes police to seize drugs and intensifies efforts to address drug use in public spaces such as sidewalks and parks.

Moreover, the bill seeks to streamline the prosecution of drug trafficking and enhance the availability of addiction treatment options. Kotek emphasized the importance of working closely with relevant authorities to ensure the bill’s implementation aligns with its objectives, especially considering the potential disproportionate impact on communities of color highlighted in the Criminal Justice Center’s Racial Equity Impact Statement.

In an effort to address the ongoing public health and safety crisis exacerbated by fentanyl, Kotek, alongside Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and Multnomah County Chair Jessica Vega Pederson, declared a 90-day state of emergency for downtown Portland last month.



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