You would think decriminalizing hard drugs would be universally recognized as a bad idea, but it seems the leaders and citizens of Oregon didn’t see it that way until the time came to reap the consequences.
And it seems the time to reap those consequences is just about now, considering that, according to a story in CNN, Oregon has been forced to declare a 90-day “state of emergency” in downtown Portland, due to an ongoing and increasingly alarming drug addiction crisis, specifically to the drug fentanyl.
As reported in CNN, “Oregon Gov. Tina Kotek, Multnomah County Chair Jessica Vega Pederson and Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler each made an emergency declaration to address the public health and public safety crisis in Portland’s Central City, citing overdoses, deaths and fear driven by fentanyl use.”
The reason behind this crisis stems from the now infamous Measure 110, “which decriminalized some use of hard-drugs, including fentanyl, a potent synthetic opioid” and passed in the Oregon State Legislature back in 2020.
As a result, “[o]piod overdose deaths in the state increased from 280 in 2019 to 956 in 2022,” an astounding 241 percent increase.
If only there was some way this could’ve been avoided.
At least the Oregonian leaders are doing something about it — though maybe not quite enough.
Part of the plan for Portland’s 90-day state of emergency is setting up a command center in the middle of the city, which will measure the effects of fentanyl use and addiction on Portland’s citizens and direct addicts to the relevant treatment centers.
The other part of the plan “include[s] two public health campaigns and increased outreach to get people into treatment, recovery and housing services.”
But, at least per CNN’s report, this effort is only targeting fentanyl — why not any other hard drugs?
Measure 110 decriminalized more than just fentanyl, including in its scope heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamines — all hard drugs whose effects are nearly as bad as those of fentanyl.
Granted, fentanyl has been much in the news lately, and with the border crisis going the way it is, there’s only going to be more pouring into the country.
Still, dependency on these drugs can be just as deadly as fentanyl addiction.
But we’ve yet to address the elephant in the room underlying the mess facing Portland now.
How did Measure 110 pass at all?
After all, it seems like a should be such an obviously bad idea on the surface, something no one of sound mind would propose, let alone something a large enough swath of average citizens would vote for.
Well, if you’re familiar with left-wing ideas about drugs and how to handle addiction, perhaps it won’t be as surprising.
For one, many folks on the left have been leading a crusade for decades to decriminalize drugs and drug use, beginning with marijuana, but now, clearly, they’re pushing for the hard stuff.
According to such folks’ reasoning, throwing addicts in prison doesn’t actually solve the underlying root of the problem; it just prevents them from getting treatment.
So the argument goes, if more addicts got treatment instead of going to prison, then that would eventually conquer the crises of addiction rampant in our cities.
Such was the argument at least of local left-wing news outlet The Oregonian, who claimed, when the measure was still in consideration, that “[b]roadening access to services so that adults – and juveniles – can easily get assistance is a public health solution more closely tied with what is ultimately a public health problem. Oregonians should make clear this is a priority for the state and vote ‘yes’ on Measure 110.”
Unfortunately for the utopian aspirations of left-wing politicians, real life does not quite work that way, and all the citizens of Oregon who voted for this preposterous measure are finding out the hard way.
If you decriminalize the possession and use of hard drugs, or at least “reclassify the offense of possessing small amounts of illicit drugs from crimes to violations,” most folks inclined to use them will just feel more free to indulge their addictions, since they will face no (or less) consequences for their debilitating habit.
As for the folks who created and the folks who voted for Measure 110?
Well, as the old saying goes, play stupid games, win stupid prizes.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.