In 2020, Oregonians overwhelmingly voted for Measure 110. It ended criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of all drugs. It is also greatly expanding access to much needed (and chronically underfunded) addiction services in the state. Despite this, some elected officials and anti-drug opponents want to go back to a harmful system where people are arrested and put in jail for drug possession, while not addressing the root causes of Oregonian's concerns on the disorder, crime and human suffering on Oregon's streets.
Some elected officials and anti-drug opponents have been doing everything they can to undermine Measure 110. As they point fingers, we know Oregonians deserve real solutions to the concerns they face in their communities. Measure 110 is doing its part to address drug use and addiction with a health approach. Yet our opponents are using it as a scapegoat for other, longstanding issues such as homelessness, crime, and public disorder.
The majority of the $302+ million funding for the 2021-23 budget cycle was allocated to service providers in August 2022. As such, much of the service infrastructure is still getting up off the ground. Yet, instead of understanding huge systems change takes time, some legislators have already tried to remove funding or roll back certain components of the measure.
We have been up against many legislative attempts that would undermine the measure and its ability to help Oregonians. And in September 2023, two ballot measure initiatives were filed that would undo Measure 110 by recriminalizing drug possession and forcing people into treatment with threat of incarceration. Nothing proposed in this initiative provides real solutions to Oregonian’s concerns to the conditions on their streets. Instead it reverts to failed drug war tactics: more criminalization, coercive interventions, and locking up people who are struggling without addressing the root causes of homelessness and addiction.
Recriminalizing drugs will increase overdose risk and racial disparities in the criminal legal system, disrupt treatment, and saddle people with criminal records that will serve as barriers to housing, employment, education, and other services for the rest of their lives. Jailing people is a waste of resources that results in a revolving door of arrest and incarceration that never addresses the root causes of drug use.
Decades of data suggest mandating treatment with the threat of incarceration increases the risk of overdose and death. And it would make access to treatment even harder for those who are already waiting in line to take advantage of the lifesaving treatment services that Measure 110 makes possible.
As with the rest of the country, fentanyl and other less understood (but potentially more potent) drugs continue to overtake the drug supply in Oregon. And while this has sadly led to an increased overdose death rate, Oregon remains well below the national average. A study found that Measure 110 is not associated with an increase in overdose death rates in Oregon. With increased access to services funded by Measure 110, Oregonians will be better equipped to prevent and respond to overdoses. Measure 110 also removes the barriers caused by criminalization that prevent people from seeking lifesaving support.
DPA, its partners on the ground, and legislative allies are hard at work to protect the will of the voters and ensure Measure 110 stays intact and has the resources and support it needs to be successful. Measure 110 was not meant to address the disorder, crime and human suffering on Oregon’s streets. These conditions are unacceptable and must be addressed. Demand that politicians and bureaucrats stop dragging their feet, and finally provide the housing, expanded drug treatment, and mental health care that people need and voters have overwhelmingly supported.
The Drug Policy Alliance is fighting to ensure successful implementation of Measure 110 and build a robust public health response to drug use in Oregon. We are: