Majority Support Found in Every Part of the State and Overwhelming Bipartisan Majority Believe Addiction Should be Treated Through Public Health, Not Criminal System
Portland, OR – According to a new poll released by Data for Progress, a strong majority of voters continue to support Measure 110—the voter approved ballot referendum that made Oregon the first state in the U.S. to decriminalize drug possession and greatly expand addiction services—by a +22-point margin, nearly two years after its passage. Majority support for the measure was found in all parts of the state. A strong bipartisan majority (72%, a +48-point lead) further believes addiction should be addressed through the public health system and not the criminal legal system.
The survey also found, to an even more overwhelming degree, that Oregon voters strongly support the individual provisions of the measure, ranging from 61% (+24-point lead) for eliminating criminal penalties for drug possession to 91% (+84-point lead) for peer support mentoring for people struggling with substance use.
“This survey makes it abundantly clear that Oregon voters recognize the value of addressing the overdose crisis through continued investment in public health resources and services rather than reverting to the deeply flawed and unjust punitive approaches of the past,” said Kassandra Frederique, Executive Director of the Drug Policy Alliance. “Today, because of Measure 110, there is over $300 million in funding that has gone out throughout the state to fund a spectrum of critical addiction services. Today, there are 65% fewer people being arrested for drugs. And today, we are giving the rest of the country a glimpse of what is ultimately possible when we offer people support instead of punishment. That is what Oregonians overwhelmingly voted for in the November 2020 election, and that is what they are continuing to support today.”
The survey was conducted between August 23-29 of 1,051 likely voters in Oregon and was weighted to be representative of likely voters by age, gender, education, race, and voting history, with regional crosstabs created by grouping respondents based on self-identified county.
The survey follows the critically important funding milestone that occurred earlier this month when all $302 million for the 2021-23 biennium was finally approved for distribution to service providers throughout the state to support addiction services. With this funding, service providers are finally 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.
“Measure 110 is a transformational law that has already saved lives and money. This new, independent poll echoes what we’ve been hearing on the ground for two years: Oregon voters want to see drug use treated as a healthcare issue, not a crime,” said Tera Hurst, Executive Director of the Health Justice Recovery Alliance, the organization leading the on-the-ground advocacy around implementation of Measure 110. “Oregonians are committed to seeing Measure 110 move forward, not return to a failed system that is ineffective and causes great harm. It’s clear that policymakers must uphold the will of the voters, keep Measure 110 in place, and protect it as a steady source of funding that addiction recovery providers can count on.”
“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.”
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.
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.