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‘Dying before our eyes’: Overdose deaths push Oregon lawmakers to end drug decriminalization ‘experiment’

Oregon is ready to end its “experiment” with drug decriminalization, according to one state senator. This comes as skyrocketing overdose deaths and public drug usage compelled the state legislature to re-introduce criminal penalties for possession in the Beaver State.

“About four Oregonians a day are dying because of overdoses,” state Sen. Tim Knopp, a Republican and minority leader in the upper chamber, told “Fox & Friends Weekend” on Sunday.

“The voters of Oregon were sold a bill of goods through an initiative that was on the ballot, and it decriminalized all hard drugs – fentanyl, heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine,” he said.

OREGONIANS SUPPORT ENDING DRUG DECRIMINALIZATION AMID RISING OVERDOSES, ‘RADICALIZED SOCIAL JUSTICE MOVEMENT’

“Instead of treatment that the voters thought they were going to get for their family and friends who are on drugs and addicted, they ended up getting unbridled drug use, drug sales all over our major cities across Oregon, and it turned into an exponential increase in overdose deaths.”

The three-year decriminalization “experiment” began in 2020 when nearly 60% of voters supported the passage of Measure 110, which decriminalized possession of small amounts of hard drugs like fentanyl, meth and heroin and made possession punishable by a maximum $100 fine. 

VOTERS’ REMORSE: BLUE STATE SURVEY SHOWS MAJORITY WANT TO RE-CRIMINALIZE DRUGS: ‘WE MADE AN ENORMOUS MISTAKE’

Oregon gubernatorial candidate Tina Kotek

The measure has since lost popularity as widespread concerns over the fentanyl crisis, homelessness and a decrease in public safety have entered the spotlight.

“What we had is more crime, open drug use, open drug sales, and you see people pretty much everywhere on drugs, and, they were literally dying before our eyes on the streets of Portland and Eugene and Salem and major cities across Oregon. It’s been horrific,” Knopp said.

The Oregon Senate voted 21-8 in favor of recriminalizing hard drugs with HB 4002 on Friday, following in the footsteps of the state House with the bill receiving largely bipartisan support.

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According to Oregon Public Broadcasting, the bill also expands access to opioid withdrawal medications, creates addiction services facilities and enables prosecutors to “seek steep penalties for drug dealers.”

The bill now heads to Democratic Gov. Tina Kotek’s desk. 

According to the report, Kotek has declined to make her stance on the bill clear, but she has previously signaled support for reinstating criminal penalties for drug possession.

Fox News’ Kassy Dillon contributed to this report.

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