Oregon Lawmakers Rethink Drug Decriminalization: Governor to Decide on Reversal Bill

Oregon Lawmakers Rethink Drug Decriminalization: Governor to Decide on Reversal Bill

Oregon Lawmakers Rethink Drug Decriminalization: Governor to Decide on Reversal Bill

In a groundbreaking move, Oregon became the first state in the U.S. to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of all drugs in 2020. However, this bold step towards drug policy reform is now under reconsideration. A new bill, which could reverse the decriminalization law, is currently awaiting the governor’s decision. This article delves into the complexities of this issue, exploring the reasons behind the reconsideration and the potential implications of the reversal bill.

The Initial Decriminalization Law

Measure 110, passed in November 2020, decriminalized the possession of small amounts of all drugs, including heroin, methamphetamine, LSD, and oxycodone. Instead of facing criminal charges, individuals found with these substances would receive a civil citation, similar to a traffic ticket, and a $100 fine. This fine could be waived if the individual agreed to a health assessment through an addiction recovery center.

Reasons for Reconsideration

Despite the progressive intentions behind Measure 110, it has faced criticism from various quarters. The primary concerns include:

  • Insufficient funding for addiction recovery services: Critics argue that the measure did not provide enough funding to establish the necessary infrastructure for addiction recovery services.
  • Increased drug use: Some believe that decriminalization has led to an increase in drug use and related social problems.
  • Lack of deterrent: Without the threat of criminal charges, there is less incentive for individuals to seek help for their addiction.

The Reversal Bill

In response to these concerns, a new bill, HB 3001, has been proposed. This bill seeks to reverse the decriminalization law and reinstate criminal penalties for drug possession. The bill is currently awaiting the decision of Governor Kate Brown.

Implications of the Reversal Bill

If passed, the reversal bill could have significant implications. For instance:

  • Increased criminal charges: The reversal could lead to an increase in criminal charges for drug possession, potentially exacerbating the issue of mass incarceration.
  • Impact on marginalized communities: Historically, drug laws have disproportionately affected marginalized communities. The reversal could perpetuate these disparities.
  • Stigma and barriers to treatment: Criminalizing drug use can increase stigma and create barriers to treatment, potentially hindering efforts to address addiction.

Case Studies and Statistics

Looking at international examples, Portugal decriminalized all drugs in 2001. Since then, drug-related deaths and HIV infection rates have significantly decreased. However, critics argue that Portugal’s success cannot be directly applied to the U.S. due to differences in population size, culture, and healthcare systems.

According to the Oregon Health Authority, drug overdose deaths increased by 40% in Oregon in 2020. However, it is important to note that this increase occurred during a global pandemic, which has exacerbated mental health and substance use issues across the country.


The debate over drug decriminalization in Oregon highlights the complexities of drug policy reform. While decriminalization can reduce the harms associated with criminalization, it must be accompanied by robust support services to effectively address addiction. As Oregon lawmakers reconsider this issue, the rest of the nation watches closely, awaiting the decision of Governor Kate Brown on the reversal bill.

By C.N.W

Keywords: Oregon, drug decriminalization, reversal bill, Governor Kate Brown, Measure 110, HB 3001


  • Oregon Health Authority
  • Measure 110
  • HB 3001
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