Three years ago, back in 2020, Oregon became the first state to essentially legalize all recreational drugs. Cocaine, crack, heroin, opioids, mushrooms, Ecstasy, LSD, meth, opium, PCPs, you name it. Under Oregon’s new state law, the penalty for possessing any (or all) of these drugs was reduced to a government “health assessment” or a maximum $100 fine.
In other words, not even a slap on the wrist. But there’s more to the story.
Oregon’s law also established a new statewide drug treatment program for people who wanted to get help with drug addictions. Proponents of decriminalization loudly proclaimed this was the more humane, compassionate way to deal with deadly drugs – to allow people to use them freely without fear of criminal punishment, and naturally many of them would turn to the free addiction counseling offered by their friendly government.
Of course, that’s obviously not how things would play out, as most rational people predicted at the time.
Three years into this liberal experiment, “people sprawled on sidewalks and using fentanyl with no fear of consequence have become a common sight in cities such as Eugene and Portland. Business owners and local leaders are upset, but so are liberal voters who hoped decriminalization would lead to more people getting help. In reality, few drug users are taking advantage of new state-funded rehabilitation programs.” That quote is from the Wall Street Journal.
Overdose deaths in Oregon have increased by 66%, according to PBS. Many families are fleeing Oregon cities. In fact, the U.S. Census Bureau says that Oregon lost 16,000 residents last year. Law enforcement officials in Oregon indicate that because people are no longer being arrested early in their addiction – when law enforcement intervention might actually do some good – they’re hooked on drugs longer and then are getting arrested for much more violent crimes. And the data speaks for itself: violent crime is steadily rising in that state, according to FBI crime statistics.
But this is the beauty of having 50 states. The other 49 can look at what a disaster Oregon’s liberal policies are and (hopefully) avoid going down that same road.