Salem, Ore. — Oregon Governor Tina Kotek signed House Bill 4002 on Monday, officially reversing a significant portion of Measure 110 and reinstating drug possession as a criminal offense in the state. The bill, a prominent legislative outcome of the 2024 session, received bipartisan support in both the House and Senate.

In a letter dated Monday to Senate President Rob Wagner and House Speaker Julie Fahey, Kotek stated that HB 4002, along with its companion Senate Bill 5204, aims to prioritize treatment while maintaining accountability.

Measure 110, approved by Oregon voters in 2020, had decriminalized small amounts of hard drugs, imposing only fines for possession. However, the treatment-focused aspects of the measure were delayed, and amid a surge in fentanyl use statewide, criticism of the approach grew.

Faced with the prospect of a Measure 110 rollback initiative on the November 2024 ballot, lawmakers sought to develop their own reform plan during the session. HB 4002 effectively reverses decriminalization by establishing a new “drug enforcement misdemeanor” for simple possession cases, while preserving the treatment-oriented components of Measure 110.

Under the new law, individuals charged with the misdemeanor may face an 18-month probation period initially, with the potential for up to 30 days in jail for probation violations or up to six months for more serious infractions. Offenders could be released early from jail to undergo drug treatment. The recriminalization provision takes effect on September 1.

Additionally, HB 4002 introduces a framework for “deflection” programs, which would be implemented at the county level based on the discretion of local prosecutors and law enforcement. In counties opting for such programs, individuals may be diverted to behavioral health and treatment programs instead of entering the court system.

Kotek’s letter emphasizes the importance of coordination among law enforcement, courts, and community mental health programs for successful implementation of HB 4002, particularly regarding the establishment of deflection programs. She acknowledges concerns regarding potential racial disparities resulting from the legislation and emphasizes the role of pre-arrest deflection programs in addressing these disparities.

Furthermore, Kotek acknowledges challenges related to legal representation for defendants, citing strains on Oregon’s public defender system. She directs the state’s Criminal Justice Commission to oversee deflection programs, promote standardization, and anticipate the increase in cases expected under HB 4002.

Kotek underscores the need for innovative approaches in implementing HB 4002, stating that the Department of Corrections will prioritize non-jail sanctions and advocate for consistent supervision when individuals are released to treatment.

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