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As drug overdose deaths climb in Oregon, lawmakers reimpose criminal penalties for drug possession

A person is using fentanyl on Park Avenue following the decriminalization of all drugs in downtown Portland, Oregon on Jan. 23, 2024. (Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images)
A person is using fentanyl on Park Avenue following the decriminalization of all drugs in downtown Portland, Oregon on Jan. 23, 2024. (Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images)

The Oregon legislature has passed a new bill that re-imposes criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of drugs like meth, cocaine, and fentanyl.

The new bill rolls back part of Measure 110, a ballot measure passed by voters in 2020 that de-criminalized drug possession to keep people out of jail and steer them toward treatment.

Oregon Senate Majority Leader Kate Lieber, a Democrat from Portland, co-wrote the new bill. She speaks with Here & Now’s Peter O’Dowd about how she hopes it will help address the drug crisis in her state.

And, we hear from Tera Hurst, executive director of the Health Justice Recovery Alliance, a nonprofit group that supported Measure 110 implementation in Oregon. Hurst speaks about whether she thinks the new approach will adequately fund needed drug treatment programs and help bring down the number of drug overdose deaths in Oregon.

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

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