Portland café owner warns city isn’t equipped to help addicts after Oregon nixes drug decriminalization law

A Portland, Oregon business owner is sounding the alarm on the consequences of the state’s short-lived policy decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of certain drugs after the state moved to end the measure this week.

Bison Coffeehouse owner Loretta Guzman joined “Fox & Friends First” after Oregon reversed its 2020 voter-approved law on Monday to decriminalize most illegal possession of controlled substance offenses and redirect much of the state’s marijuana tax revenue to fund grants for addiction services.

Since the passage of the liberal policy, addiction and overdose deaths skyrocketed in the state and nationwide, fueled by the fentanyl crisis.


getty hands fentanyl foil downtown portland

A woman and her boyfriend prepare to smoke foils of fentanyl on Jan. 23, 2024, in downtown Portland. (Photo by Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images)

Guzman, a Portland native, warned the city is not prepared to assist the drug-addicted population fueled by the experimental law.

“I don’t think our city has things lined up for it,” Guzman told co-host Carley Shimkus on Wednesday.

“Right now, there’s no help for the people.”

Under the new law taking effect Sept. 1, so-called personal use possession will become a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail. 

But Guzman remains unconvinced it will make a difference.

portland drug tent july 2023

(Hannah Ray Lambert/Fox News Digital)

“Our streets are flooded, especially downtown, with people who use drugs,” Guzman said. “The police haven’t been able to do very much at all.”

“They’ll be right back where they are,” she continued. “Our jails are decaying right now.”

HB 4002 also empowers police to confiscate drugs and crack down on their use in public spaces and establishes ways for treatment to be offered as an alternative to criminal penalties.

But Guzman emphasized the glaring absence of assistance from city officials.

“You can go to places, they’ll give them drug needles and stuff like that,” she said. “As far as giving them real help, there’s nothing really.”

The previous law, Measure 110, directed hundreds of millions of dollars of the state’s cannabis tax revenue toward addiction services. But state auditors found health authorities struggled to set up the new treatment system.

“These [addicts]… they can’t even make a rational decision for themselves because they’re so high,” Gunzman said of people she’s observed on the streets.

Democratic Gov. Tina Kotek, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and Multnomah County Chair Jessica Vega Pederson declared a 90-day state of emergency for downtown Portland in January over the public health and safety crisis.


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