A new bill unveiled by Democratic legislators in Oregon would undo a key part of the state’s first-in-the-nation substance decriminalization law, the Associated Press reports.
The bill would recriminalize the possession of small amounts of substances as a low-level misdemeanor. This would allow police to confiscate them and crack down on their use on sidewalks and in parks, the legislators who introduced the bill said. The bill is also designed to make it easier to prosecute dealers, to access medication to treat opioid use disorder and to obtain and keep housing without facing discrimination for using the medication.
The measure would allow doctors to prescribe medications to treat opioid use disorder without prior approval or review from insurance companies. It would also make it easier for pharmacists to refill prescriptions in certain emergency situations.
The decriminalization law, Measure 110, passed with 58% support in 2020. The Democratic legislators who backed the bill said it was a way to treat substance use disorder as a public health issue instead of a crime. But now they are facing one of the nation’s largest increases in overdose deaths. In addition, they are facing growing pressure from Republicans and from a well-funded campaign group to overhaul the law.