Spiking Deaths Force Blue States to Re-Criminalize Drugs

Oregon rolls back its radical drug policies

What’s happening: The Oregon state legislature recently passed a bill restoring criminal penalties, including imprisonment, for drug possession after the state's radical decriminalization policy led to a spike in overdoses and open-air drug use.

Catch up: Oregon became the first and only state in the nation to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of drugs, including heroin and methamphetamine, after voters in 2020 approved a ballot measure spearheaded by the Soros-backed Drug Policy Alliance. Rather than imprisonment, officials in Oregon gave out citations to individuals caught in possession with the hope they'd voluntarily seek treatment.

  • The outcome: Between 2020 and 2022, overdose deaths in Oregon increased by 75 percent, compared to 18 percent nationally. Only 1 percent of offenders who received citations inquired about treatment; police essentially stopped issuing citations since there was no consequence for disregarding them.

  • Drug-fueled disaster: Progressive Oregon Governor Tina Kotek and Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler recently declared a state of emergency, citing the spike in fentanyl overdoses and drug-related crime in Portland.

The trend: While cities in the progressive hotbed known as the West Coast, including Seattle and San Francisco, pushed for decriminalization over the past decade, voters are now seeking tougher policies that address public drug use and homelessness.

Why it matters: The tides are turning. Progressive policies such as decriminalization of drugs, Electric Vehicle mandates, and DEI initiatives are reversing as voters become increasingly unfavorable of Democrat policies. Democrats may find it necessary to shift toward the center to win Americans’ support in this year’s upcoming elections.