Headline RoundupApril 2nd, 2024

Oregon Re-Criminalizes Small Amounts of Hard Drugs

Summary from the AllSides News Team

On Monday, Oregon Governor Tina Kotek signed a bill that re-criminalized small amounts of hard drugs.

The Details: Violators can now be charged with a misdemeanor and face up to six months in jail. The law will also establish “task forces” that focus on behavioral health, and reduce “barriers to consumer access to substance use disorder treatment.” 

Deflection: Drug users who come into contact with police will be able to “deflect” from the justice system into treatment programs. Oregonian counties will decide individually how to handle deflection, with 23 of 36 already agreeing to create a deflection program.

For Context: The law change was put forth by Democrats and overturned a voter-approved decriminalization measure from 2020.

Key Quotes: Kotek wrote, “Courts, Oregon State Police, local law enforcement, defense attorneys, district attorneys, and local behavioral health providers are all critical… to achieve the vision for this legislation.” Recovery Works Northwest outreach worker, Jovannis Velez, told NBC News (Lean Left bias), “We were too progressive. Society wasn’t ready for it.”

How The Media Covered It: NBC News included context that revenues from marijuana tax revenues were meant to go to drug treatment programs, but that it didn’t help. NBC added that Oregon has the second-highest rate of substance use disorder and ranks 50th for access to treatment in the U.S. Oregon Public Broadcasting (Center bias) highlighted concerns that the law could disproportionately affect people of color. The Daily Caller (Right bias) didn’t name Oregon in its headline, instead referring to it as a “Blue State.”

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