Oregon Gov. Tina Kotek signed legislation on Monday re-criminalizing the possession of certain drugs, roughly three years after the state became the first in the nation to decriminalize the possession and personal use of all drugs, the Democratic governor’s office told CNN.

House Bill 4002 – which overwhelmingly cleared both chambers of the state legislature with bipartisan support – reverses portions of Measure 110, a 2020 voter ballot initiative that relaxed certain penalties for drug possession.

Under the new law, offenders could face up to six months in jail, or, in place of criminal penalties, elect to undergo drug treatment. The penalties for unlawful drug possession will take effect September 1.

In a letter obtained by CNN from the governor to the state’s legislative leaders, Kotek focused on provisions of the law that can prevent jail time for defendants.

“House Bill 4002 provides three pathways to avoid incarceration for individuals who possess small amounts of a controlled substance by encouraging pre-arrest deflection, providing conditional discharge upon criminal justice interaction, and pursuing formal probation,” Kotek wrote.

She added that a law enforcement focus on options other than incarceration “is one strategy to reduce collateral consequences of justice system involvement and can help mitigate the racial and ethnic disparities this legislation is projected to create.”

In January, Kotek joined local officials in declaring a fentanyl state of emergency in downtown Portland.

“Our country and our state have never seen a drug this deadly and addictive, and all are grappling with how to respond,” she said in a news release, vowing “unprecedented collaboration and focused resources” ahead of a “roadmap for next steps.”

Opioid deaths in Oregon tripled between 2019 and 2022, with many of the deaths attributed to the rise in fentanyl, a potent synthetic opioid.

In 2020, Oregon voters moved to decriminalize various hard drugs – including fentanyl, heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine – when Measure 110 was approved with 58.5% of the vote. It took effect in February 2021.

CNN’s Shania Shelton and Kaanita Iyer contributed to this report.


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