Oregon Senate passes bill to recriminalize certain drug possession crimes News
M.O. Stevens, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Oregon Senate passes bill to recriminalize certain drug possession crimes

The Oregon Senate passed House Bill 4002 by a vote of 21-8 Friday, which recriminalizes certain drug possession charges that Oregon voters voted to decriminalize in 2020.

Under the bill, individuals charged with possession of small amounts of drugs like methamphetamine or fentanyl will face misdemeanor charges that can result in jail time. Additionally, the bill contains provisions intended to expand access to opioid withdrawal treatment medications and make it easier for individuals to get addiction treatment.

In 2020, Oregon voters passed Measure 110, which made most unlawful possession of a controlled substance offenses a Class E violation. A Class E violation is a less serious offense than a misdemeanor and only involves a fine of $100. Measure 110 allowed individuals charged with unlawful possession to have their charges dismissed if they sought treatment within 45 days of receiving a citation. This change applied to Schedule I-IV drug possession offenses. The measure also established a drug addiction treatment program funded by the state’s marijuana tax revenue. House Bill 4002 would make most of these offenses misdemeanors again.

In response to the passage of the bill, Policy Director of the ACLU of Oregon Jessica Maravilla stated:

Together, ACLU of Oregon’s more than 27,000 members imagined an Oregon filled with healing and thriving communities, not more jails and prisons. Thousands of us took action and engaged in our democracy — calling and emailing lawmakers and submitting testimony for hearings. We asked for real solutions including more treatment, housing, prevention programs, community revitalization efforts, and non-police mobile crisis response teams. The ACLU of Oregon community has deep gratitude for the lawmakers who voted ‘no’ to the false promises of criminalization in HB 4002 — and its unconscionable human and other costs to our state.

Conversely, Oregon Senate Republican Leader Tim Knopp praised the bill’s passage, stating:

Republicans stand united with Oregonians who overwhelmingly believe we deserve better than Measure 110. In this historic vote to reimpose criminal penalties for drug possession, we are making it clear that Oregon is no longer a drug tourism state. Though lawmakers will have much more to do in future sessions to continue making progress on the fentanyl-fueled drug overdose and addiction crisis facing our state, I was proud to stand on the right side of history by casting my vote in favor for HB 4002. Passing this bill will put Oregon on a path to recovery and signifies and end to the nationwide decriminalization movement. I call that a victory.

The bill will now go to Oregon Governor Tina Kotek for passage. If Kotek signs the bill, it will become law in Oregon. However, if Kotek vetoes the bill, the state legislature can override the veto with a two-thirds vote of those present in both the House and the Senate, and the bill will become law without Kotek’s approval. Also, if Kotek does not sign or veto the bill, it will become law on either January 1, 2025 or the prescribed effective date on the bill. The Oregon House previously passed the bill by a vote of 51-7.