Oregon Gov. Tina Kotek Declares Fentanyl State of Emergency

2024-02-03 14:40:43

Oregon Gov. Tina Kotek (D) declared a state of emergency in Portland due to the dire increase in fentanyl overdoses just a few years after the state decriminalized drug use.

The progressive state became the first to decriminalize drug use when the legislature passed Measure 110 in 2020, aiming to focus on recovery over incarceration for addicts. 

Nearly 60 percent of voters approved of the measure at the time, but newer polls have found that they regret that move just three years later.

Furthermore, no other states have followed Oregon’s lead in removing penalties for most drug crimes.

“Oregon has turned into an international spectacle and I think we looked at each other and realize that we made an enormous mistake,” Portland-based attorney Kristin Olson told Fox News.

“We’ve had three years of this law that has not delivered on the promise that voters thought they were getting,” Washington County District Attorney Kevin Barton said to CBS News.

The state has seen a continuous increase in overdose deaths since the measure passed in 2020. In 2022, the levels soared to nearly 1,000 fatal drug overdoses.

The 90-day state of emergency order issued by Gov. Kotek and Multnomah County Chair Jessica Vega Pederson and Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler will “commit available resources to the unified response.”

A command center will be set up in Portland where state, county, and city employees will convene to coordinate strategies and response efforts, a joint statement reads.

“Our country and our state have never seen a drug this deadly and addictive, and all are grappling with how to respond,” Kotek said before saying her administration will take “unprecedented” action:

The Chair, the Mayor and I recognize the need to act with urgency and unity across our public health and community safety systems to make a dent in this crisis. We are all in this together. The next 90 days will yield unprecedented collaboration and focused resources targeting fentanyl and provide a roadmap for next steps.

Wheeler’s statement highlighted the need to make a “direct impact and a lasting difference”:

I am pleased to have Governor Kotek and Chair Vega Pederson join the City of Portland’s ongoing efforts to address the deadly fentanyl crisis impacting our community. Today, we move forward with urgency to address these challenges together under the authority of emergency declarations. This is exactly the type of coordinated action needed to make a direct impact and a lasting difference.

The joint statement went on to say that a combination of services, including “peer outreach” and “behavioral and public health,” will be used to provide fentanyl addicts with treatment and “other stabilization services.”

Kotek’s office also said that the Portland Police Bureau will collaborate with Oregon State Police to “hold individuals selling the drug accountable.”



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