Oregon Gov. Signs Bill to Recriminalize Drug Possession

Oregon Gov. Tina Kotek has signed a bill to recriminalize the possession of certain drugs in the state, undoing key provisions of the state’s voter-approved decriminalization bill that took effect three years ago.

Full story after the jump.

Oregon Gov. Tina Kotek (D) on Monday signed a bill into law undoing major provisions of the state’s landmark, voter-approved drug decriminalization policy.

With the governor’s signature, House Bill 4002 — passed by lawmakers in early March — officially takes effect September 1, after which state law enforcement will again be able to file misdemeanor charges for possession of a controlled substance.

establish new criminal penalties including potential jail time for the possession of fentanyl, heroin, and meth

In her signing letter for House Bill 4002, Kotek recognized that the public has expressed “significant interest and concern regarding the recriminalization of possession of a controlled substance.”

The governor said the new law offers “three pathways to avoid incarceration” and that she had met with state leaders to emphasize the importance of arrest deflection programs.

“The Department of Corrections shares my expectation that implementation of House Bill 4002 cannot be business as usual. DOC will exhaust non-jail opportunities for misdemeanor sanctions through rulemaking and work to promote a consistent approach for supervision when an individual is released to treatment.” — Kotek, in the signing letter

Some opposing lawmakers had argued that the recriminalization policy could clog up the courts and criminal justice system with low-level charges and that it was too soon for lawmakers to step in and undo the will of voters.

Oregon voters passed Measure 110 in 2020 and the initiative’s drug decriminalization policy took effect in 2021.

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