Mike Schmidt Supports Renewed Crackdown on Hard Drug Offenders

Mike Schmidt Supports Renewed Crackdown on Hard Drug Offenders

Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt has broken his extended public silence on the matter, expressing support for Oregon legislators’ recent proposal to re-criminalize hard drugs.

This stance marks a departure from the 2020 ballot measure that positioned Oregon as the first state to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of heroin, meth, and fentanyl.

“What we have seen over the last few years as fentanyl has hit the West Coast is unacceptable, and we need to take action to help those struggling with addiction,” he stated. “We can approach addiction as the health issue it is, while also holding people accountable for how they impact our community.”

In 2020, Schmidt secured a landslide victory with a progressive platform, vowing to break away from the ineffective “war on drugs” policies.

Recently, he proposed a modification to Measure 110, maintaining its core but introducing penalties for public use of the hard drugs that voters had decriminalized. When questioned about re-criminalizing hard drugs, Schmidt referred to his public-use ban proposal without directly addressing the question.

Despite Schmidt’s efforts, legislators are determined to reinstate misdemeanor penalties for drug possession, influenced by the surge in overdoses and the visible impact of addiction on Portland’s streets, making decriminalization less favorable to voters.

In the upcoming May election, Schmidt faces opposition from Nathan Vasquez, a challenger from within his own office.

Schmidt’s shift in stance is noteworthy, occurring shortly after he received his largest contribution of $30,000 from the Drug Policy Alliance, a well-funded group advocating for drug policy reform and a supporter of Measure 110.

The proposed bill currently classifies possession of small amounts of illicit drugs as an “unclassified” misdemeanor, carrying penalties of up to 180 days in jail. Legislators emphasize that this penalty is a last resort, aiming to guide users into diversion programs and treatment, allowing them to avoid charges or clear their records.

However, a state analysis reveals that the current law will lead to 2,200 additional convictions annually, disproportionately impacting Black Oregonians.

The bill’s opponents claim it ignores the fact that there are still insufficient drug treatment facilities in the state. Grant Hartley, the public defender for Multnomah County, testified on Monday, saying, “This bill does not change that sad reality.”