It was heralded as a progressive and enlightened decision by voters when it was enacted in 2020.
But three years later, the results are in and they are devastating.
Now Oregon voters are looking to reverse a decision that was a big mistake.
In 2020, Oregon became the first state to decriminalize all drugs.
That milestone was a major shift in public policy that was watched closely as a sort of test case by other states considering a similar move.
Three years later it is safe to say that the gambit has been a complete and total failure.
The decriminalization initiative known as Measure 110 passed with 58% support in 2020.
Those who have lived through this poorly conceived policy aren’t at all happy at the havoc that has occurred and now a majority of the public has turned against the idea.
Poll: Big majority thinks decriminalization has been a disaster
A DHM Research poll asked Oregon voters about repealing portions of Measure 110 to bring back criminal penalties for drug possession, while continuing to use cannabis taxes to fund drug treatment programs.
The results have been illuminating.
More than 6 in 10 voters think that Measure 110 has made drug addiction, homelessness, and crime worse.
In addition, more voters believe that the root cause of homelessness is drug addiction and mental health problems rather than a lack of access to affordable housing.
A clear majority of voters think that Measure 110 has been bad for the state.
The Wall Street Journal reports that people openly using fentanyl in public with no fear of consequence can be seen everywhere in cities such as Eugene and Portland.
Police say that the removal of the threat of incarceration hasn’t been replaced with a new incentive for people struggling with addiction to seek treatment.
As a result, many addicts simply do what one would expect addicts to do, which is not a whole lot.
According to the Wall Street Journal, 6,000 tickets have been issued for drug possession since decriminalization went into effect in 2021.
But of that 6000, only 92 people have called and completed assessments needed to connect them to services, as reported by the nonprofit that operates the helpline.
Business owners and community leaders are all up in arms.
The state’s overwhelmingly left-leaning voters who hoped decriminalization would lead to more people getting help are now seeing that such hopes have not come to fruition as a scant few drug users take advantage of new state-funded rehabilitation programs.
Given the broad backlash to what can only be described as a bone-headed move, it’s likely that the current state of affairs will soon be altered.
Police chiefs, elected city leaders and district attorneys have all called on the state legislature to again criminalize hard drugs.
A measure to do this is likely to appear on next year’s ballot.
But it didn’t have to be this way.
Hopefully voters and politicians in other states think twice before making the same mistake that Oregonians have had to learn from the hard way.