Portland resembles an 'open air drug market' after legalizing hard drugs

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.

Photos show the desperate situation in the Pacific Northwest city, where people can be seen shooting up drugs or passed out in broad daylight

Photos show the desperate situation in the Pacific Northwest city, where people can be seen shooting up drugs or passed out in broad daylight

Law enforcement agents say that the streets of Portland are full of homeless addicts openly buying and selling drugs

Law enforcement agents say that the streets of Portland are full of homeless addicts openly buying and selling drugs

A man can be seen using a needle in Portland over a year after Ballot Measure 110 went into effect in February 2021

A man can be seen using a needle in Portland over a year after Ballot Measure 110 went into effect in February 2021

Drug overdose deaths in Oregon also hit an all-time high in 2021 with 1069, a 41 percent increase from 2020

Drug overdose deaths in Oregon also hit an all-time high in 2021 with 1069, a 41 percent increase from 2020

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. 

The streets of Downtown Portland are filled with open drug use, with the homeless using and buying hard drugs during the day

The streets of Downtown Portland are filled with open drug use, with the homeless using and buying hard drugs during the day

After Ballot Measure 110 was passed 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

After Ballot Measure 110 was passed 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

Emergency personnel carries a man away as the drug use in the streets of Portland is said to be rampant after the passing of Ballot Measure 110

Emergency personnel carries a man away as the drug use in the streets of Portland is said to be rampant after the passing of Ballot Measure 110

A woman enters the Great Circle drug treatment center in Salem, Oregon

A woman enters the Great Circle drug treatment center in Salem, Oregon 

As the city deals with a rising homelessness problem, more than 16,000 Oregonians have accessed services through Measure 110 funding

As the city deals with a rising homelessness problem, more than 16,000 Oregonians have accessed services through Measure 110 funding

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.

New possession limits 

Under the new Oregon law that went into effect in February 2021, offenders caught with the following drug amounts can avoid criminal charges:

  • Less than 1 gram of heroin
  • Less than 1 gram, or less than 5 pills, of MDMA
  • Less than 2 grams of methamphetamine
  • Less than 40 units of LSD
  • Less than 12 grams of psilocybin
  • Less than 40 units of methadone
  • Less than 40 pills of oxycodone
  • Less than 2 grams of cocaine

Offenders caught with the following amounts of drugs will be charged with misdemeanor simple possession, rather than a felony:  

  • 1 to 3 grams of heroin
  • 1 to 4 grams of MDMA
  • 2 to 8 grams of methamphetamine
  • 2 to 8 grams of cocaine

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 his notoriously progressive laws have 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.

San Francisco has become a drug-abusing Wild West with syringes littering pavements and drug dealers, selling heroin or the deadly opioid fentanyl, easily recognisable dressed in black with matching backpacks

San Francisco has become a drug-abusing Wild West with syringes littering pavements and drug dealers, selling heroin or the deadly opioid fentanyl, easily recognisable dressed in black with matching backpacks

San Francisco is now blighted by rampant open-air drug abuse, car break-ins, aggressive shoplifting, homeless encampments and fouling of pavements with human excrement

San Francisco is now blighted by rampant open-air drug abuse, car break-ins, aggressive shoplifting, homeless encampments and fouling of pavements with human excrement 

Residents claim that DA Boudin's policies have made the liberal California enclave - which has seen  vagrancy and crime rates soar in recent months - an increasingly unsafe place to live

Residents claim that DA Boudin’s policies have made the liberal California enclave – which has seen  vagrancy and crime rates soar in recent months – an increasingly unsafe place to live 

Illicit fentanyl started appearing on San Francisco streets in 2018, and is often mixed with other drugs such as heroin and cocaine to increase potency.

Overdose deaths rose rapidly with the arrival of fentanyl and deaths connected to the drug increased from nine in 2009 to 230 in 2019, the city said in a report. In 2021, the city reported 474 deaths due to fentanyl.

The city has taken several steps to address the fentanyl epidemic, including adding new drug and mental health beds and launching the Street Overdose Response team to provide care for people at high risk of overdose, SFGATE reported.

San Francisco Mayor London Breed declared a state of emergency in the city, which streamlined the city’s permitting regulations in order to quickly open the linkage center. The facility connects people living on the street and struggling with substance use and mental health issues, to services.

The state of emergency expired in April, but the mayor renewed aspects of the declaration to allow city workers to serve as disaster service workers to respond to issues in the Tenderloin neighborhood, which is particularly hard hit.

‘The mayor agrees that we need to break up open-air drug dealing in San Francisco,’ the mayor’s office wrote in an emailed statement.

‘Police officers are making arrests every day, and in the last few weeks an additional 20 officers have been added to the Tenderloin neighborhood to support our emergency response initiative. The police have seized over 10 kilos of fentanyl in the Tenderloin area this year alone, which is roughly four times more than was seized over the same time period last year. We know more needs to be done to make more arrests, but there also needs to be accountability for the people who are dealing drugs, committing acts of violence, and making our communities less safe.’

The illegal supervised drug consumption site at the linkage center, where a half-dozen people were witnesses smoking fentanyl in an outdoor area on the site, and two people passed out

The illegal supervised drug consumption site at the linkage center, where a half-dozen people were witnesses smoking fentanyl in an outdoor area on the site, and two people passed out

The center is equipped to serve up to 100 people at a time who are suffering from drug use and mental health issues, connecting with long-term and short-term services like health care and housing

The center is equipped to serve up to 100 people at a time who are suffering from drug use and mental health issues, connecting with long-term and short-term services like health care and housing

The men, sitting down with bags of filled with their belongings, injected the drugs in their arms

The men, sitting down with bags of filled with their belongings, injected the drugs in their arms

It comes as vagrancy and crime runs rampant in the Big Apple despite Mayor Eric Adams vow to crackdown on both

It comes as vagrancy and crime runs rampant in the Big Apple despite Mayor Eric Adams vow to crackdown on both

The following day, seven other men were pictured at the same spot taking drugs together

The following day, seven other men were pictured at the same spot taking drugs together

Two men were pictured on May 28 taking drugs out in the open in East Harlem's La Marqueta marketplace

Two men were pictured on May 28 taking drugs out in the open in East Harlem’s La Marqueta marketplace

Last month in New York City a group of men were pictured taking drugs out in the open outside a Harlem marketplace casually using needles to inject drugs into their arms.

The men were pictured sitting underneath a railway surrounded by bags of their belongings and an overturned Citi bike, and photos of the block the following day show even more men shooting up drugs at the site.

The scene comes despite Democratic Mayor Eric Adam’s vow to crackdown on homelessness and crime in the city, which is up nearly 40 percent from last year.

New Yorkers have been growing weary over the latest spike in violence and crimes on the city streets and subways.

While murders and shootings are down 10 and roughly five percent respectively from 2021, overall crime in the Big Apple is up 39.24 percent so far in 2022.

That includes a 19 percent rise in felony assaults, a nearly 15 percent increase in rapes and a 40 percent jump in robberies.

Vagrancy has also been on the rise in the city, with Adams ordering wave after wave of officers to take down homeless encampments throughout the city since March.

City officials said police have taken down more than 300 camps throughout the five boroughs, but the homeless continue to rebuild their encampments, claiming that the city’s homeless shelters are ‘dangerous’ and not an adequate solution to its vagrancy problem.

Source: Portland resembles an ‘open air drug market’ after legalizing hard drugs

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