Ultra-Progressive State Faces Insane Spike of Overdoses

Fentanyl has taken the lives of tens of thousands of Americans over the last several years. The crisis has impacted every community and people from all walks of life. One state has had an astronomical spike in overdose deaths that far surpasses other states, and some are blaming a measure passed by the state’s progressive voters.

Annual fentanyl overdose deaths increased by 1,530% in Oregon between September 2019 and September 2023. A total of 1,268 people died from the drug during that time. The rate was higher than any other state in the US.

The powerful synthetic opioid has become a major problem in America. Its ingredients are generally manufactured in China, Mexico, and India, and then smuggled into the US from Mexico. Shockingly, the drug is usually smuggled through legal ports of entry by couriers who are, most often, legal citizens.

Sharon Meieran, a Multnomah County commissioner, spoke to Oregon Live about the massive increase in deaths, saying, “I knew it was bad, but I honestly did not know it was that bad.”

In recent years, Oregon has shifted from one of the places with the lowest number of fentanyl deaths and moved toward the middle. The state is now ranked 17th nationally. Some point to its decision to decriminalize drugs.

In 2020, Oregon’s voters passed Ballot Measure 110, which decriminalized the possession of small amounts of drugs like fentanyl and heroin. Instead of taking people to jail when they are in possession of small amounts of drugs, the police give them a ticket and tell them that the ticket will go away if they call a number for a drug treatment center. ProPublica found addicts rarely call the number. Additionally, the legislature has failed to implement the measure properly, rejecting a proposed $50,000 online course that would have trained authorities on how to better use the law.

Now, as drug overdoses soar, lawmakers want to make changes to the ballot measure and start putting people in jail again. It’s unclear when the state’s progressive lawmakers intend to take action. And while they wait, people are dying.