Oregon Lawmakers Pass Bill To Revive Penalties For Drug Possession

This photo taken on January 11, 2019 shows a drug user user holding low-grade crystal meth tablets, known in Southeast Asia as "yaba", in Muse, Shan State, along Myanmar's border with China. - Myanmar is the second-biggest producer of opium in the world after Afghanistan and is now believed to be the largest source of methamphetamine. (Photo by Ye Aung THU / AFP) / TO GO WITH Myanmar-health-drugs-opium-meth-conflict,FEATURE by Hla Hla Htay and Richard Sargent (Photo by YE AUNG THU/AFP via Getty Images)
(Photo by YE AUNG THU/AFP via Getty Images)

OAN’s Abril Elfi
4:20 PM – Saturday, March 2, 2024

Oregon lawmakers have passed a bill to criminalize the possession of small amounts of drugs.


The Oregon Legislature passed a bill on Friday recriminalizing the possession of small amounts of drugs, thereby undoing a significant portion of the state’s first-ever drug decriminalization law.

After the House passed House Bill 4002 51-7 on Thursday, the state Senate voted 21-8 to approve it. The bill is now headed to Governor Tina Kotek’s desk.

According to Oregon Public Broadcasting, Kotek stated in January that she would be willing to sign a bill that reversed decriminalization.

“With this bill, we are doubling down on our commitment to make sure Oregonians have access to the treatment and care that they need,” said Democrat Senate Majority Leader Kate Lieber, of Portland, one of the bill’s authors, adding that its passage will “be the start of real and transformative change for our justice system.”

Under the law, possessing small amounts of drugs like heroin or methamphetamine is considered a misdemeanor and carries a maximum six-month jail sentence. It makes it possible for law enforcement to seize the drugs and strictly prohibit their use in parks and on sidewalks. Offering drug treatment as an alternative to criminal penalties is mandated.

Lew Frederick (D-Oregon.) complained that the bill was too flawed and that the testimony he had heard on the bill repeatedly indicated that treating substance use disorders should be treated medically.

“I’m concerned that the bill will attempt to use the same tactics of the past and fail, only to reinforce the punishment narrative that has failed for 50 years,” he said, adding that the measure could move more people into the court system without making them healthier.

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