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Even progressives in Seattle and Portland are fed up with making drugs legal

Editor’s note: The following column is adapted from the author’s new book, “What’s Killing America” (Center Street, September 26)

In the past few years, Oregon and Washington have effectively legalized drugs as part of the Black Lives Matter movement’s criminal justice reforms. It’s been an abject failure, taking thousands of lives. Now, voters say they’ve had enough. But will anything actually change?

In the once vibrant cities of Portland and Seattle, radical left activists and politicians spearheaded campaigns to remove police – and the greater criminal justice system – from drug enforcement. Buoyed by anti-police sentiment in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis, the Radical Left were able to convince voters in the Pacific Northwest to green light drug decriminalization.

Three years later, voters are demanding a return to drug enforcement. 

As someone who lives in the Pacific Northwest, I’ve seen this story unfold before: voters claim they’re upset with progressive city governance, but do little to pressure politicians into actually changing course. Often, they vote into office the same kind of Radical Left politician. 

Will drug legalization be the issue that finally pushes voters in the Rose City or Emerald City to act? Only time will tell. 


Portions of this op-ed were excerpted from “What’s Killing America” by Jason Rantz. (Copyright 2023) Used with permission from Center Street, a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc. 

Jason Rantz is a Seattle-based talk show host on KTTH Radio (weekdays 3 – 6 p.m. PDT).


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