Organizations Reflect on Drug Decriminalization in Oregon
People with drug arrest offenses can face obstacles in obtaining employment, housing, educational opportunities, public benefits, and other services. 
Reform

A Look Back At Measure 110 & The Impact of Drug Decriminalization In Oregon

People with drug arrest offenses can face obstacles in obtaining employment, housing, educational opportunities, public benefits, and other services. 
Reform

A Look Back At Measure 110 & The Impact of Drug Decriminalization In Oregon

PUBLISHED
Dec 03, 2021
read time 4 MIN
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A year ago, Measure 110, a landmark bill that decriminalizes possession of small amounts of drugs and increases access to treatment and supportive health services, was approved by Oregon state voters. Drug Policy Action, a political advocacy group of the Drug Policy Alliance, led the campaigning efforts and shared some of the success from the measure. 

“Now, because of this measure, there are thousands of people in Oregon that will never have to experience the devastating life-long barriers of having a drug arrest on their record, which disproportionately and unjustly affected Black and Indigenous people due to targeted policing. Because of this measure, there is more than $300 million in funding that did not exist before being funneled into community organizations to provide adequate and culturally competent care that people desperately need,” Executive Director of the Drug Policy Alliance Kassandra Frederique said in a press release

Fewer Lives Affected By Possession Arrests

The measure included legislation for removing criminal penalties for drug possession. People penalized with a felony or misdemeanor will instead be reduced to a Class E violation. According to state data, about 9,000 Oregon residents will be affected by penalty reduction.

People with drug arrest offenses can face obstacles in obtaining employment, housing, educational opportunities, public benefits, and other services. 

Under the new policies, which went into effect last February, people will no longer be arrested by the police and charged with a felony or misdemeanor for possession of small amounts of LSD, oxycodone, heroin, methamphetamine, paper joints with cannabis, and other drugs. 

If a law enforcement officer finds someone in possession, then that person will face a citation with a maximum fine of $100. Within 45 days of receiving the citation, the state’s circuit courts can dismiss the offense if the person cited received drug treatment contact or screening with the support information provided by law enforcement.

 “And while the devastation of 50 years of cruel and counterproductive policies can’t be erased overnight, by all metrics we hoped to achieve, and what voters asked for, we are going down the right path,” Frederique said in a press release. 

Increased Funding Available For Health Services 

The $300 million funding was secured by one of the Drug Policy Alliance partners, the Health Justice Recovery Alliance, over the last year. The funding is available for health services over the next two years. 

“Our immediate focus is to ensure every Oregonian knows these critical harm reduction and recovery services are being invested in and expanded so that they will be available to anyone who wants and needs them, and that they can feel comfortable and safe accessing them,” Health Justice Recovery Alliance Executive Director Tera Hurst said. 

Thanks to the immediate funding, organizations were able to increase the following services:

  • Access to treatment services for indigent, uninsured individuals from harm reduction and addiction recovery service providers.
  • Increased hiring of peer support specialists.
  • Recovery, supportive, and transitional housing services from service providers.
  • Increased harm reduction services. 
  • Overdose prevention, including access to life-saving medication like naloxone and methadone.
  • Expanded drug education and outreach.

The second round of grant proposal requests is being prepared by the state’s Oversight & Accountability Committee. 

“We were about to have to close our doors in Wasco County, which would have been devastating to the people that depend on us for support there, but thanks to Measure 110 passing, we were not only able to get the funding we needed to stay open, but also to expand the services and spectrum of care we were able to to provide our clients,” Executive Director of Bridges to Change Monta Knudson shared in a press release from the Drug Policy Alliance. 

Bridges to Change is a non-profit organization that provides housing, treatment services, and peer recovery support. It was also one of 70 organizations throughout Oregon that have received funding. 

Measure 110 is one of many efforts by the state of Oregon to combat drug crimes. In Klamath County, law enforcement seized over $120 million worth of Marijuana from an illegal cannabis cultivation operation. 

Although Oregon law enforcement agencies are pouring resources and efforts into fighting illegal drug operations, they are struggling to keep pace with the growth of illicit marijuana activity tied to national and international criminal organizations that have infiltrated the state. 

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