By Guy Page
Overdose deaths jumped 41% the year after Oregon decriminalized possession of hard drugs, according to SOS, an organization fighting drug legalization.
Also, just 10% of the taxpayer money “saved” from less policing has gone to drug treatment services, SOS said. Meanwhile Oregon murders, many of them drug-related, are at an all-time high.
The results of Oregon hard drug decrim matter because the Vermont Legislature is moving quickly towards decriminalization.
The Vermont legislature this year approved H505, preventing ond reducing the criminalization of personol drug use, which would have steeply reduced sentences for possession of fentanyl, heroin, cocaine, and other “hard drugs.” The bill was vetoed by Gov. Phil Scott.
In its written testimony opposing H505, the Department of Public Safety expressed its concem that Vermont remains a “destination for drug trafficking” due in part to demand, and in part because of the view by drug traffickers that “the financial incentives outweigh the risks posed by Vermont’s criminal laws.”
Oregon’s decriminalization of hard drugs in November 2020 launched the beginning of a experimental approach that has become a drug decriminalization disaster for the state in less than 18 months, said SOS.
Oregon’s Ballot Measure 110 was greatly touted and funded by pro-drug groups, with the goal to reduce Oregon drug possession arrests by 90% by decriminalizing Schedule I-IV drugs such as heroin, methamphetamine, and cocaine. Monies from the state’s marijuana taxes as well as savings from the reduction in arrests were to be used in part to fund services for treatment, recovery, and harm reduction. The program also allowed for citation fines to be waived if the recipient accessed hotline for a health assessment that might include a referral to treatment or other harm reduction services.
What has been found is that only 10% of the promised $300M has been disbursed to organizations providing services. The picture is dismal with 2021 drug overdose deaths greatest level of 1,069, a 41% increase over the previous year. Only 116 people called the hotline to access the health assessment with 66 only seeking the verification to avoid the fine, 26 previously receiving some form of service, and 24 people who requested some type of help.
Meanwhile murders are at their highest level ever, connected to gangs and drug turf wars. District Attorney Kevin Barton of Washington County, Oregon said that property and violent crimes have increased, a fact echoed by other rural police departments.