Drug recriminalization prompts heated debate in Oregon

Members of both parties want to reintroduce penalties for possession of small amounts of illegal drugs.
Tents housing people experiencing homelessness are set up on a vacant parking lot in Portland, Ore., Dec. 8, 2020. Oregon lawmakers convened Feb. 5, 2024, for the start of a short legislative session that’s being dominated by homelessness, housing, and plans to overhaul the pioneering drug decriminalization law amid a surge in overdose deaths. (AP Photo/Craig Mitchelldyer, File)

Oregon lawmakers are racing to revise the state’s first-in-the nation drug decriminalization law, a priority of their 35-day legislative session.

A little over a week into the session that started Feb. 5, a rough outline has emerged through bills offered by both Democrats and Republicans that would roll back a key portion of the voter-passed 2020 drug law by reintroducing penalties for possession of small amounts of illegal drugs and attempt to expand access to addiction treatment.

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