High Life: Oregon Dem Governor Candidate Wants Safe Havens for Meth Users

October 5, 2022

The Democratic candidate for Oregon governor wants to create safe havens for meth users in Portland, even as drug overdoses spike statewide.

Tina Kotek called for the construction of a "meth stabilization center" in Oregon’s largest city during a gubernatorial debate Tuesday night. These "sobering centers" let people stay indoors while they come down from their high on methamphetamines and other dangerous drugs. Portland’s first meth stabilization center, Central City Concern, closed in 2019 because it was not providing much-needed medical treatment to addicts, according to its senior medical director.

Kotek’s comment could further hurt her chances against Republican Christine Drazan, who in the last week has taken the lead in four consecutive polls. During her tenure as Oregon House speaker, Kotek approved a sweeping drug decriminalization bill and sided with rioters over law enforcement during Portland’s George Floyd-inspired 2020 protests.

Methamphetamine has killed more Oregonians than fentanyl or heroin in the past three years.

Kotek’s push for the controversial sobering center is in line with other left-wing approaches to a growing nationwide drug problem. In Boston, drug users are allowed to freely shoot up outside so-called harm-reduction facilities. The Washington Free Beacon has also reported on the Biden administration’s $30 million grant program to distribute free crack pipes to addicts.

"Tina Kotek's only solution is to further normalize this lethal epidemic that has claimed far too many lives," Drazan campaign spokesman John Burke told the Free Beacon. "Harm reduction will only further enable this crisis."

Kotek’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

Both Kotek and Oregon’s independent gubernatorial candidate Betsy Johnson voted for the state’s drug decriminalization bill in 2021. Initially passed on the 2020 ballot, Measure 110 permits possession of any drug in small amounts statewide. Oregon had the highest rate of methamphetamine use of any U.S. state in 2020, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

During the last gubernatorial debate, Drazan and Johnson pledged to repeal Measure 110. Kotek acknowledged it "may be imperfect" but should not be thrown out.