Updated: Jul. 15, 2023, 11:44 a.m. | Published: Jul. 13, 2023, 6:21 p.m.
Leaders at the Multnomah County Health Department said the smoking harm reduction pilot program’s purpose was to dissuade people from using needles to inject the drugs, which can lead to more potent, fatal doses and spread diseases.
Multnomah County Chair Jessica Vega Pederson said Thursday that the county hasn’t ruled out resuming its controversial plan to hand out safe smoking supplies to fentanyl and meth users. But she indicated that’s not a done deal.
Vega Pederson acknowledged during Thursday’s county commission meeting that she gave the county health department the go ahead in May to purchase glass pipes, tin foil and snorting kits with $82,800 leftover in the syringe exchange budget.
The pilot faced immediate political backlash after Willamette Week brought the plan to light last week. The initiative drew criticism from multiple county commissioners and other politicians including Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and U.S. Rep. Lori Chavez-DeRemer, a Republican from Happy Valley.