Matt Sutton 212-613-8026
Portland, OR – Today, Oregon decisionmakers approved the remainder of $302 million for addiction services made available by Measure 110—the voter approved ballot measure that made Oregon the first state in the U.S. to decriminalize possession of small amounts of drugs and greatly expand addiction services through redirected marijuana tax revenue–for the 2021-23 biennium. The funding will go to support addiction services, including low-barrier substance use disorder treatment, harm reduction, overdose prevention services, recovery housing, and employment support, in every county of the state. The Oversight & Accountability Council, the body tasked with overseeing the distribution of the funding, approved the last remaining service providers at their meeting this afternoon. Funding recipients will coordinate services through collaborations known as Behavioral Health Resource Networks (BHRNs), set up throughout the state to ensure people in even the most rural communities have access.
Drug possession arrests significantly decreased after Measure 110 took effect on February 1, 2021, even after average monthly drug possession arrests had already dropped by 50% during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to data obtained by the Drug Policy Alliance from the Oregon Criminal Justice Commission. Once Measure 110 took effect, this monthly average fell by another 65%, and it held steady for the first half of 2022.
“It’s been a long road, but we’re ecstatic to see all of the Measure 110 funding for the 2021-2023 biennium finally being approved and going out to service providers to expand critical addiction services in Oregon communities. This is the first step in ensuring Oregon delivers on its promise of replacing a criminal legal approach to drugs with a public health approach and offering the rest of the country a glimpse of what is ultimately possible when we offer people support instead of punishment,” said Kassandra Frederique, Executive Director of the Drug Policy Alliance. “While we can’t undo a broken system that has experienced consistent disinvestment in health infrastructure and an overreliance on punitive measures for decades overnight, this is a huge step in the right direction. We are optimistic that the results over the next few years will track closely with the positive outcomes we have seen in other places outside of the U.S. that have implemented similar policies.”
The approved funding is currently being, or has already been disbursed, to 237 service providers in 36 BHRNs throughout the state, and will support:
With this funding, service providers will finally be able to begin the process of expanding their services—whether that be hiring and training new staff; securing additional leases or purchasing offices and housing; purchasing vehicles and other equipment to serve as mobile services or transport; and investing in other infrastructure—to better serve the many Oregonians in need of addiction services.
“Being part of a Measure 110 Behavioral Health Resource Network allows us to scale up our programming, provide housing for more community members in early recovery, and increase the reach of our recovery mentor program. Our mentors will be able to better access resources in our community to serve our clients and their families by promoting community connection,” said Basilio Sandoval of Centro Latino Americano, a bilingual, multicultural agency serving Latino families in Lane County. “Creating that safe space where clients feel welcome and understood because they are receiving compassionate support from someone who understands their heritage and language…that’s what people need to build a strong foundation for their recovery. And that’s what Measure 110 is helping make possible for even more people in my community.”
“Working to save lives during this crisis I see, daily, the immense suffering in our communities. Every overdose death is a preventable death,” said Haven Wheelock, Overdose Prevention Specialist and Public Health Expert in Oregon. “Overdoses are on the rise all across the country, and in Oregon we have a unique tool in Measure 110 to handle this public health crisis with a public health response. For the first time in a long time, I feel hopeful — even on a day like today when we’re mourning the more than 1,000 Oregonians who died from an overdose during this last year.”
Since the measure passed in November 2020, DPA’s key implementation partner in the state—the Health Justice Recovery Alliance—has worked closely with the legislature, the Oregon Health Authority and the Oversight & Accountability Council to secure the funding and has advocated tirelessly for it to go out to service providers as quickly as possible. The $302 million that was fully approved as of today includes the $31.4 million lawmakers agreed to release ahead of schedule in May of last year to get the infrastructure off the ground. A new allocation of funds will be available July 2023 for the 2023-2025 biennium.
“Measure 110 changes the system so that there is no wrong door to access services,” said Tera Hurst, Executive Director of the Health Justice Recovery Alliance. “Thanks to Measure 110, you don’t have to get arrested before you are maybe offered help. Measure 110 is changing the addiction recovery service landscape so that regardless of the path, supportive services will be more readily available closer to home.”
The state’s groundbreaking Measure 110 ballot initiative made Oregon the first state in the nation to decriminalize personal possession of all drugs and greatly expand access to health services. While the robust support infrastructure is still getting off the ground, early results from January 2022 showed over 16,000 people had already been able to access services funded by Measure 110.
The Measure 110 campaign was spearheaded by Drug Policy Action, the 501(c)(4) advocacy arm of the Drug Policy Alliance, in partnership with Oregonians, and passed overwhelmingly by Oregon voters with a 17-point margin in the November 2020 election.
Since Measure 110’s passage, a number of states—including Washington, Massachusetts, Vermont, Maine, New York, Rhode Island, Maryland and Kansas—the District of Columbia, and even the United States Congress have introduced bills or launched campaigns to likewise remove criminal penalties for drug possession and increase access to health services. DPA is leading the efforts in D.C. and Congress, while supporting other efforts around the country.
Support for drug decriminalization is at an all-time high, with a recent poll by DPA and the ACLU finding that 66% of Americans now support eliminating criminal penalties for drug possession and replacing them with a new approach centered in public health.
To learn more about drug decriminalization, visit DPA’s Decriminalization Exchange.