Some Medford community members believe the new drug law is increasing drug use

(KTVL/ Kimberly Kolliner)

MEDFORD, Ore. - Some Medford community members are noticing the effects of reducing drug possession crimes from a felony to a misdemeanor.

The maximum penalty for a misdemeanor is one year in prison whereas someone with a felony could serve six.

Medford resident, Jose Coronado believes this is having a negative effect in his neighborhood.

"There's just a lot more activity of drug users," said Coronado

Coronado thinks it has to do with House Bill 2355 signed by Governor Brown in August.

"I'm thinking that now that they can just roam free without getting a felony and being high that they're doing it," said Coronado.

Under the new law people arrested with small amounts of illegal drugs will likely be charged with a misdemeanor rather than a felony.

Something Coronado’s neighbor Raymond Engel thinks isn't enough of a punishment.

"It goes back to choice. They chose to do it; therefore, they should be held accountable for what they're doing. Throw them in the cell, let them be sick, maybe they won't do it ever again after they learn that they're sick," said Engel.

Medford police says, at this moment in time, their hands are tied since our jail facility can't accommodate for this.

"We have to look at different options. Obviously incarceration right now is not the overall answer. I wish it would be," said Lt. Justin Ivens.

Coronado and Engel say they understand but would like these areas in their neighborhood improved because they worry it could affect the children in the neighborhood.

Since it has only been less than two months since the law's been changed, Medford Police says it's not enough time to make any statistical comparisons.

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