After Decriminalizing Hard Drugs, Oregon Does a Complete U-Turn After Learning the Hard Way

The left-wing legislature in Democrat-controlled Oregon has learned that their progressive ideas about decriminalizing hard drugs was a huge mistake, and now they have done an about-face for the sake of public safety.

Oregon’s Dem. Gov. Tina Kotek signed a bill on Monday that reverses Measure 110, a law that was only put into place in 2020, but one that had disastrous consequences for the Beaver State, Fox News reported.

The ballot measure that was approved in 2020 — the first of its kind in the U.S.A. — decriminalized some use of hard drugs, including fentanyl — one of the most potent synthetic opioids.

As Fox News reported, Measure 110 was passed by 58 percent of the voters in 2020. But now, only three years after the law was put in motion, 56 percent say that the experiment was a failure and support repealing the measure.

The state’s progressive leaders assumed that the failed decriminalization effort that was instituted by Measure 110 would lead to “social justice reform,” and that would result in fewer of the state’s minorities being targeted for arrest and jail time. Instead of realizing that outcome, though, the state found a soaring rate of overdoses and a growing criminal trafficking problem that threatened to overwhelm the very communities the progressives claimed they intended to help.


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In fact, the overdose deaths from opioids rose from 280 in 2019 to 956 in 2022. That represents an astounding 241 percent increase in opioid deaths in Oregon.

Portland security guard Michael Bock told Fox News that the deaths in Multnomah County were even worse than the state-wide average, going up 533 percent between 2018 and 2022. He added that the drug dealers acted with “absolute impunity” thanks to the lax laws put in place by state legislators.

As 2024 kicked off in January, Gov. Kotek, Multnomah County Chair Jessica Vega Pederson, and Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler were all forced to declare a 90-day state of emergency in Portland to address this abhorrent and shocking rise in overdose deaths.

By February, both state Democrats and Republicans were submitting bills to roll back Measure 110 because its failure was undeniable.

Should Oregon have ever decriminalized hard drugs?

Ultimately, the entire decriminalizing experiment collapsed, and by March, the Oregon legislature had passed HB4002, a bill recriminalizing the possession of small amounts of hard drugs, which put an end to the decriminalization of illegal drugs.

This week, the governor signed that bill into law, and it will take effect on Sept. 1, ending the grand experiment that cost so many people their lives.

Still, Gov. Kotek warned that the repeal will require “deep coordination” between courts, police, prosecutors, defense attorneys, and local mental health providers, all of whom she said are “necessary partners to achieve the vision for this legislation.”

Despite Kotek’s trepidation, Oregon House Republican Leader Jeff Helfrich was exultant over the repeal of Measure 110.

“Republicans stood united and forced Democrats to do what Oregonians demanded: recriminalize drugs,” the GOP leader said after Kotek signed HB4002 into law.


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Republican Rep. Tim Knopp added that more needs to be done to address the mess made by Measure 110.

“Make no mistake, this bill is not enough to undo the disaster of Measure 110,” Knopp said. “House Republicans are ready to continue the work we started and bring real change to Salem in the next session.”

“Now that the governor has given the recriminalization bill her stamp of approval, we can finally end the chapter on Oregon’s experiment with decriminalizing hard drugs.”

It is now crystal clear that the effort to decriminalize dangerous, addictive drugs only sent more people to use and abuse them, resulting in more deaths than ever. One would think this failure would act as a warning beacon for Democrats all across the country. Sadly, we know it won’t.

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