The State of Oregon’s experiment in decriminalizing drugs is proving to be divisive.
Solutions to the nationwide overdose crisis appear elusive. Oregon residents wanted to find one, so they voted in November of 2020 to decriminalize possession of small amounts of hard drugs, like heroin, meth, cocaine, and fentanyl. The measure aimed to connect drug abusers with treatment centers. However, substance use in Oregon remains a big problem in 2022. Steve Munisteri, former chairman of the Texas Republican Party, says he had discussed the issue when he was with the Trump administration.
“Things like fentanyl and heroin are addictive substances. So, if people get hooked on them, the answer to that is not to try to reason with people that are now in an irrational situation,” Munisteri explained. “The answer to that is prohibiting those drugs and enforcing the laws.”
Democrats disagree, however, saying stricter enforcement in decades past hasn't solved the drug problem. They claim new funding for harm reduction has saved lives. Some experts say decriminalization itself is not the problem, but the measure in Oregon lacks a proper pathway to recovery.