Portland, OR

Wednesday in Portland: Fentanyl use 'like a bomb going off' on Portland's streets and more top stories

Emily Scarvie

(Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

By Emily Scarvie

(PORTLAND, Ore.) Hello Portlanders! It's Wednesday, Aug. 24 - Here's your daily round up of all the news happening in the City of Roses.

1. Fentanyl use 'like a bomb going off' on Portland's streets

Local nonprofit organizations that send workers into homeless camps in Portland say that increased fentanyl use has escalated conditions on the streets.

“It’s like a bomb going off in our city. It’s huge,” Jeff Woodward, with the Mental Heath & Addiction Association of Oregon, told KOIN. “It’s just created this perfect storm.”

Terry Leckron-Myers, who’s with the same group, said, “We have people who don’t have enough treatment. We have people who don’t have enough housing. And so when we talk about the arc, the challenges are huge because what I used to do with drugs back in, maybe, the ‘80s so now what we thought back then was a huge drug crisis, this is a huge epidemic.”

Woodward said even the outreach workers are offered the drug. They work to distribute fentanyl test strips and warn people about “the blues,” which are blue pills people think are prescription pain killers, but are often laced with deadly amounts of cheap fentanyl.

The nonprofits working with people on the streets are expanding the number of outreach workers thanks to funding from the Joint Office of Homeless Services.

2. Health officials drafting plan to ban sale of flavored nicotine products in Multnomah County

Health officials in Multnomah County are working on a proposal that would ban the sale of flavored nicotine products within the county. Multnomah County Health Officer, Dr. Jennifer Vines, said even though the legal age for these products is 21, teens are somehow still getting their hands on them.

“Seventeen percent of the time, we find tobacco retailers in Multnomah County selling to someone who is underage,” Vines said. “We actually had a national outbreak of severe lung disease linked to vaping. The bottom line here is one of health. This is the health and human suffering component. There is also an economic impact to poor health.”

Multnomah County isn’t the first to consider a ban on these products. Last year, Washington County’s Board of Commissioners voted 3 to 2 to ban the sale of flavored tobacco products. That ban is currently on hold.

Vines and county chair, Deborah Kafoury, have asked the health department to come up with a plan they’ll go over in September. The county’s board will then make the final decision.

3. Local organization, Imagine Black, wins 2022 NASS Award

The National Association of Secretaries of State Award is given to an individual, group or organization every year and Shemia Fagan, Oregon’s Secretary of State, just announced the 2022 winner. This year, the award was given to Imagine Black, a local organization that works with Portland’s Black community to imagine alternatives they deserve.

Imagine Black “envisions a world where people of African descent enjoy the rights, resources and recognition to be a thriving, resilient and connected community.” The organization works on issues like child care, public safety and more.

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