Lefty news giant exposes colossal failure of blue state's drug decriminalization

July 20, 2023
World Net Daily

This story was originally published by the WND News Center.

Oregon's drug decriminalization Ballot Measure 110, passed overwhelmingly by the Democrat-dominated state's voters in 2020, is proving to be a colossal failure – with drug overdoses skyrocketing as police are left with little leverage to punish offenders, according to a July 19 article in the left-biased Atlantic magazine.

"Early results of this reform effort, the first of its kind in any state, are now coming into view, and so far, they are not encouraging. ... Oregon's drug problems have not improved," reports Atlantic writer Jim Hinch in the article headlined "What Happened When Oregon Decriminalized Hard Drugs." "Last year, the state experienced one of the sharpest rises in overdose deaths in the nation and had one of the highest percentages of adults with a substance-use disorder. During one two-week period last month, three children under the age of 4 overdosed in Portland after ingesting fentanyl."

The George Soros-backed ballot measure, called the "Drug Decriminalization and Addiction Treatment Initiative," downgraded the penalty for possessing small amounts of a "controlled substance" – even hard drugs like heroin – to the equivalent of a $100 traffic ticket, and even that can be waived.

It also uses revenue from pot sales in the state (Oregon legalized recreational marijuana in 2015) to fund an expanding network of drug treatment centers for addicts (though they are now called "users"). However, as the Atlantic article reveals, that grant program has been riddled with inefficiencies and abuses typical of other government handout programs over the decades.

"Earlier this year, Portland business owners appeared before the Multnomah County Commission to ask for help with crime, drug-dealing, and other problems stemming from a behavioral-health resource center operated by a harm-reduction nonprofit that was awarded more than $4 million in Measure 110 funding," the Atlantic reports. "In April, the center abruptly closed following employee complaints that clients were covering walls with graffiti and overdosing on-site. A subsequent investigation by the nonprofit found that a security contractor had been using cocaine on the job."

The results to date are so bad that politicians in the state, both Democrats and Republicans, are trying to reel in Measure 110 through new legislation (e.g., toughening up laws for possession of fentanyl), while still rejecting attempts by Oregon Republicans to repeal the ballot measure altogether, according to the Atlantic.

Soros funded Measure 110

Alex Soros of the Open Society Foundations, as shown on the web page of the board of directors for the Drug Policy Alliance, which gave more than $5 million to get Measure 110 passed in Oregon (drugpolicy.org)

Nevertheless, the George-Soros-backed drug legalization "reform" movement that helped get Measure 110 passed is pushing ahead with plans to put similar drug-decriminalization measures on the ballot in other states as well as the District of Columbia. (Federal lawmakers may be able to override such a drug policy change in D.C. if it gets on the ballot and passes.)

That doesn't surprise conservatives like Cliff Kincaid who have been fighting the lonely battle against pro-drug-legalization forces in the United States, which includes many libertarians. Alex Soros, who has taken over the left-wing funding operation from his father, sits on the board of directors of the Drug Policy Alliance, "which helped write Measure 110 and spent more than $5 million to pass it," according to the Atlantic article.

"Today, the U.S. has become a narco-state, with George Soros having provided $300 million to weaken or dismantle laws against illegal drugs," Kincaid, founder, and president of the group America's Survival Inc., told WND. His group's 2012 report, "Narco-State California: A Model for George Soros," details how George Soros pushed for drug legalization in California by massively funding ballot initiatives, beginning with legalizing medical marijuana.

'Harm reduction' replaces 'Just say no
Hinch describes the "progressive" idealism – some would say utopianism or outright naïveté – that drove the campaign for Measure 110 in Oregon. Predictably, the Biden administration has embraced this approach: "The Biden administration has endorsed and increased federal funding for a public-health strategy called harm reduction; rather than pushing for abstinence, harm reduction emphasizes keeping drug users safe – for instance, through the distribution of clean syringes and overdose-reversal medications. The term harm reduction appeared five times in the ballot text of Measure 110, which forbids funding recipients from 'mandating abstinence' [i.e., getting off drugs]."

"Oregon's Measure 110 was viewed as an opportunity to prove that activists' most groundbreaking idea—sharply reducing the role of law enforcement in the government's response to drugs – could work," he reports. "The measure also earmarked hundreds of millions of dollars in cannabis tax revenue for building a statewide treatment network that advocates promised would do what police and prosecutors couldn't: help drug users stop or reduce their drug use and become healthy, engaged members of their communities."

Pro-drug legalization groups like the Drug Policy Alliance funded the effort as part of a national push for the radically new approach, according to the Atlantic piece: "Matt Sutton, the director of external relations for the Drug Policy Alliance, which helped write Measure 110 and spent more than $5 million to pass it, told me that reform advocates viewed the measure as the start of a nationwide decriminalization push."

In a section on the Drug Policy Alliance's website under "Protect Measure 110," it reads: "Build Oregon's health infrastructure to support people who use drugs. Protect Measure 110." Here is how the DPA defines itself: "The Drug Policy Alliance is the leading organization in the U.S. working to end the drug war, repair its harms, and build a non-punitive, equitable, and regulated drug market."

Cops can't enforce the law, so they disengage
The DPA site states that "Drug decriminalization means that people are no longer arrested or incarcerated for drugs for personal use. No longer enforcing personal drug possession saves money. These savings can go towards needed services and support. This includes voluntary treatment, housing, employment, harm reduction, recovery services, and peer support. Drug decriminalization does not legalize drugs."

The Drug Policy Alliance states that its campaigns are "evidence-based" and in line with common sense. But common sense would seem to dictate that giving users of hard drugs something like a traffic ticket – or no penalty at all – would lead to more people using (and abusing) drugs because they no longer fear punishment from law enforcement and the state through its legal system. That kind of common sense would be correct in the case of Oregon and Measure 110.

Writes Hinch: "Meanwhile, the new law's enforcement provisions have proved ineffectual. Of 5,299 drug-possession cases filed in Oregon circuit courts since Measure 110 went into effect, 3,381 resulted in a recipient failing to pay the fine or appear in court and facing no further penalties, according to the Oregon Judicial Department; about 1,300 tickets were dismissed or are pending."

He continues: "The state audit found that, during its first 15 months in operation, the treatment-referral hotline received just 119 calls, at a cost to the state of $7,000 per call. A survey of law-enforcement officers conducted by researchers at Portland State University found that, as of July 2022, officers were issuing an average of just 300 drug-possession tickets a month statewide, compared with 600 drug-possession arrests a month before Measure 110 took effect and close to 1,200 monthly arrests prior to the outbreak of COVID-19."

One cop from a rural and therefore more conservative part of the state said it makes little sense for police to give what amounts to drug-use "tickets" under the new law: "Focusing on these tickets even though they'll be ineffective — it's not a great use of your resources," Sheriff Nate Sickler of Jackson County told Hinch.

Meanwhile, supporters of Measure 110 are celebrating the steep decline in the state's drug arrests, especially for "people of color."

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