Portland City Council passes ban on hard drug use in public - but state lawmakers must give OK

01:53 07.09.2023

The City of Portland, Oregon, took a major step on Wednesday towards addressing the issue of public drug use by voting to implement an emergency ordinance banning hard drugs like fentanyl, heroin, and methamphetamine on public property. The City Council unanimously approved the ordinance with a 5-0 vote, recognizing the need for criminal penalties to deter drug use in public spaces.

However, the new ordinance will not take immediate effect due to a trigger amendment included in the legislation. The amendment stipulates that the penalties cannot be enforced until state lawmakers pass a new bill granting municipalities the authority to regulate public drug consumption. In response, the resolution passed by the City Council directs the Office of Government Relations to collaborate with other local governments in Oregon and the state Legislature to find solutions that effectively address the significant impact of consuming hard drugs on public property.

This decision by Portland's City Council comes shortly after an Emerson poll of 1,000 registered Oregon voters revealed that more than half of respondents support a complete repeal of Measure 110. This measure, which was passed in 2020 with 58% of voter backing, decriminalized possession of small amounts of hard drugs like heroin, meth, and fentanyl, imposing a maximum $100 fine. The sentiment expressed in the poll suggests growing concerns among residents regarding the implications of Measure 110, prompting the City Council to take action.

During the council meeting, many members of the public expressed their support for the ban on public drug use, voicing their frustration with the increasing prevalence of drug-related issues in the city. However, there were also concerns raised by at least one individual about potential consequences, such as fewer opportunities for intervention. Fox News Digital has reached out to members of Portland's City Council for additional comments regarding the decision.

Commissioner Rene Gonzalez emphasized the necessity of implementing these measures, stating that they are crucial steps towards disrupting the debilitating drug use that is negatively impacting Portland's livability. The ordinance includes penalties of up to six months in jail or a $500 fine for public drug use. The aim is to address the overwhelming strain placed on the city's emergency response system, the destruction of lives, and the overall decline in the city's livability caused by rampant drug use on the streets.

While the intention behind the ordinance is clear, its effectiveness is contingent upon the passage of new laws by Oregon state lawmakers. The City Council passed a resolution directing Portland's Office of Government Relations to lobby state legislators, urging them to take action and address the growing issue of public drug use and the subsequent rise in overdose deaths. Fatal opioid-related overdoses in Multnomah County, which encompasses Portland, increased fivefold between 2018 and 2020, with a record-breaking 209 fentanyl deaths reported last year alone.

The prevalence of hard drug use on the streets of Portland has garnered national attention and led to criticism of the city as a place of lawlessness, despair, and homelessness. Local residents, frustrated with the situation, made their voices heard during the council hearing, with nearly every member of the public testifying in favor of the public drug use ban. Mayor Ted Wheeler echoed the urgency expressed by the community, emphasizing that immediate action is necessary to save lives and preserve livelihoods.

In conclusion, the City of Portland's decision to ban hard drugs on public property reflects the growing concerns of residents and their desire to address the detrimental effects of drug use on the city's livability. However, the implementation of the ordinance hinges on the approval of new legislation by state lawmakers, underscoring the need for collaborative efforts between local governments and the state Legislature to combat the significant impact of drug consumption on public property.

/ Thursday, September 7, 2023, 1:53 AM /

themes:  Oregon  Maine

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