Overdoses went through the roof after Oregon voted to decriminalize all drugs

When it comes to the failures of unfettered liberalism, there are no better examples than the three states that comprise the west coast of the United States and while California truly stands on its own, its neighbor to the north continues to excel when it comes to racking up dubious distinctions, the latest being an explosion in overdoses after Oregon moved to decriminalize all illegal drugs.

In 2020, voters approved the first-in-the-nation initiative to decriminalize all drugs including such dangerous substances as heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine and magic mushrooms, treating the possession of the intoxicants as a civil instead of a criminal matter while encouraging those who were caught in possession to seek medical help.

Measure 110, otherwise known as the Drug Addiction Treatment and Recovery Act passed with nearly 60 percent of the vote in November 2020 and went into effect in February 2021, after being backed by the nonprofit New York City-based advocacy group Drug Policy Alliance, which received partial funding from Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan.

Under the pioneering program, a person possessing drugs was given a citation – similar to a traffic ticket – with the paltry maximum fine of $100 being waived if they contacted a health assessment hotline.

(Video: YouTube/KGW News Portland)

However, just over a year later, the measure’s critics who predicted that decriminalization would be a disaster have sadly been proven right, with addictions reported to be up as much as 700 percent in some areas.

Officials are now admitting that they underestimated the difficulty in implementing Measure 110.

“The ballot measure redirected millions of dollars in tax revenue from the state’s legal marijuana industry to treatment. But applications for funding stacked up after state officials underestimated the work required to vet them and get the money out the door, officials testified Thursday before the House Interim Committee on Behavioral Health. Only a tiny fraction of the available funds has been sent,” according to a report by the Associated Press.

“So clearly, if we were to do it over again, I would have asked for many more staff much quicker in the process,” Oregon state Behavioral Health Director Steve Allen said. “We were just under-resourced to be able to support this effort, underestimated the work that was involved in supporting something that looked like this and partly we didn’t fully understand it until we were in the middle of it.”

“Allen, who works for the Oregon Health Authority, told lawmakers in the remote hearing that this $300 million project has never been done before. He insisted it has strong potential, saying officials have ‘over-relied on traditional treatment,’” AP reported.  “’The service array, the types of services that are included, the approach, the harm reduction, etc., are all designed by people who have experienced this and have, I think, some really interesting, good ideas about what these service systems ought to look like,’ he said. ‘So it’s an experiment. I think we’ll know more in a few years.’”

One Republican state lawmaker, Lily Morgan who represents Grants Pass in the southwestern part of the state told Allen, “Director, you’ve mentioned a couple of times that you’re waiting to see, and yet we have overdoses increasing at drastic rates, in my community a 700% increase in overdoses and a 120% increase in deaths,” she said. “How long do we wait before we have an impact that we’re saving lives?”

Oregon Secretary of State Shemia Fagan, whose mother was addicted to drugs but recovered, also appeared before the House Interim Committee on Behavioral Health, expressing dismay that despite the decriminalizing of drugs, addiction has become a bigger problem.

“When the voters of Oregon passed Measure 110, we did so because it was a change of policy in Oregon to improve the lives of people, to improve our communities,” Fagan said, according to AP. “And in the years since, we haven’t seen that play out. … Instead, in many communities in Oregon, we’ve seen the problem with drug addiction get worse.”

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