The streets of Portland resemble an ‘open air drug market’ after state officials’ scheme to decriminalize hard drugs led to a surge in overdose deaths, critics claim.
Law enforcement agents say that the streets of Portland are full of homeless addicts openly buying and selling drugs and that signs of drug addiction are actually increasing statewide, Fox News reported.
Photos show the desperate situation in the liberal Pacific Northwest city, where people can be seen shooting up drugs or passed out in broad daylight. The dreadful scene comes 16 months after Ballot Measure 110-which passed with 58.8 percent support- decriminalized hard drugs in the Democrat-run state.
Oregon was the first state in the United States to decriminalize possession of personal-use amounts of heroin, methamphetamine, LSD, oxycodone and other drugs after voters approved a ballot measure in 2020 to decriminalize hard drugs.
A person found with personal amounts of heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine and other drugs receives a citation, like a traffic ticket, with the maximum $100 fine waived if they call a hotline for a health assessment.
The state’s program, which has been promoted as a way to establish and fund addiction recovery centers that would offer people aid instead of incarceration, is being watched as a potential model for other states.
Drug overdose deaths in the state also hit an all-time high in 2021 with 1069, a 41 percent increase from 2020, Fox News reported.
And of the 1,885 people who received tickets for personal possession in the first year, only 91 people, a measly one percent, called the hotline, according to its non-profit operator, Lines For Life.
Earlier this month, those behind the scheme admitted that they had underestimated the effort required to distributed the $300 million in funds for the program, and only $40 million has been spent.
‘So clearly, if we were to do it over again, I would have asked for many more staff much quicker in the process,’ said Steve Allen, Oregon’s behavioral health director.
‘We were just under-resourced to be able to support this effort, underestimated the work that was involved in supporting something that looked like this and partly we didn’t fully understand it until we were in the middle of it.’
The ballot measure redirected millions of dollars in tax revenue from the state’s legal marijuana industry to treatment.
But applications for funding stacked up after state officials underestimated the work required to vet them and get the money out the door, officials testified earlier this month before the House Interim Committee on Behavioral Health.
The health authority said $40 million in funds have been disbursed.
But about $265 million set aside for the 2021-23 biennium still hasn’t been spent, said Devon Downeysmith, spokeswoman for the Health Justice Recovery Alliance.
Hundreds of providers, which screen the needs of people who use drugs, offer case management, treatment, housing and links to other services, are waiting for those funds.
More than 16,000 Oregonians have accessed services through Measure 110 funding, according to the Drug Policy Alliance, which spearheaded the measure.
Portland is just one of several Democratic-led cities blighted by rampant open-air drug abuse.
Recent images and videos of the streets of San Francisco show loiterers using drugs in full view, car break-ins, aggressive shoplifting, homeless encampments and fouling of pavements with human excrement.
Things began going downhill in the liberal city under ousted Democratic District Attorney Chesa Boudin.
Boudin was elected in 2019 on a platform of criminal justice reform, but the DA has been widely blamed for rising crime and homelessness in the Bay Area since the start of the pandemic – where brazen looters ransacking stores and breaking into cars has become commonplace.
So far this year, statistics show that the crime wave has worsened from last year – one of the worst crime years in decades – with the city’s murder rate rising 11 percent, and rapes up by nearly 10 percent.
Boudin’s time in office has also seen a marked rise in vagrancy – a stand-out issue in the Bay Area, where homelessness and brazen open drug use has increased in earnest during the pandemic.
But as infection rates plunge and restrictions continue to lessen, the city’s crime and seedy underbelly has persisted – frustrating citizens to no end.
San Francisco police report 20 murders so far this year, an 11 percent increase from the 18 reported in the same time last year.
Larceny theft, meanwhile – which represents the majority of the recent ‘smash and grabs’ – has skyrocketed under Boudin, with 13,424 cases reported this year, a 20.4 percent rise from the 11,151 reported last year.
Assaults have also been on the rise, with 11 percent with 1,035 cases reported so far this year, with rapes also up by a concerning 10 percent.
As larceny continues to see the largest increase in crime, the Bay Area has contended with a series of smash-and-grab robberies in the past year, with brazen thieves raiding stores in the middle of day.