Jamiesfeast – A state of emergency was announced Tuesday over huge fentanyl problems in downtown Portland. This happened just three years after Oregon became the first state to no longer criminalize drug use.
Governor Kotek expressed concerns about the unprecedented levels of addiction and fatality caused by this highly dangerous drug. Our nation and state are facing a significant challenge in finding an appropriate response to this crisis.
“Our country and our state have never seen a drug this deadly and addictive , and all are grappling with how to respond,” Governor Kotek said.
“The Chair, the Mayor and I recognize the need to act with urgency and unity across our public health and community safety systems to make a dent in this crisis. We are all in this together.”
Kotek’s office said that the three emergency statements that were made at the same time were made to “refocus existing resources” across the city, county, and state.
The center will function as a site for immediate access to care, providing support and resources for individuals struggling with synthetic opioid addiction. It will offer a range of services, including connecting patients with treatment centers, facilitating meetings with behavioral health clinicians, and providing assistance with enrolling in programs such as food stamps.
The health department officials in Portland will gather data on the effects of fentanyl in the downtown area. This information will be used to identify and address any shortcomings in the government’s efforts to combat the city’s increasing drug problem.
The Portland Police Bureau is expanding its collaboration with the Oregon State Police to combat the individuals involved in the distribution of dangerous drugs. This joint effort aims to crack down on the trafficking of these lethal substances. In addition, health representatives will be actively engaging with the community, providing outreach services, and distributing and training individuals on the proper use of Narcan.
Mayor Wheeler expressed his determination to tackle these challenges head-on, emphasizing the need for immediate and collective action. He highlighted the power of emergency declarations in enabling swift and effective responses, stating that such coordinated efforts can bring about meaningful change.
A task force established by the governor met for several months last year to come up with recommendations on how to revitalize downtown Portland. The declaration is one of the recommendations put forth by the task force.
Just six months ago, data revealed a staggering 533% increase in overdose deaths from synthetic opioids, particularly fentanyl, between 2018 and 2022 in Multnomah County, which encompasses Portland. This significant announcement comes in the wake of this alarming statistic.
In recent months, the largest city in the state has faced significant criticism for its 2020 first-in-the-nation law that decriminalized small-time drug use, especially in light of the escalating fentanyl crisis.
The law’s focus on addiction treatment rather than criminal punishment has failed to curb the spread of synthetic opioids on the streets of Portland.
As part of its “Harm Reduction Program,” health officials had previously provided drug users with tin foil, straws, and snorting kits.
Oregon is currently facing a significant rise in synthetic overdose deaths, which is the highest increase in the entire country. Data provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveals that Oregon also ranks third in terms of overall overdose deaths.
Oregon Democrats have put forth a proposal to revise the decriminalization law in order to address a crucial aspect of the original bill. Under this proposed revision, individuals caught with hard drugs would be directed towards addiction counseling instead of being sent to prison.