Oregon’s Measure 110 was an ambitious concept. Voters said they wanted a more health-based approach to drug addiction.
Many laws for possession of controlled substances went from felonies to violations. And offenders were supposed to get access to treatment.
It’s only nine months into this new system. It’s too early to say what the overall outcome will be. But The Oregonian took a look and it found: “Nine months into the nation’s first-of-its-kind experiment to decriminalize hard drugs, the new approach has done little so far to connect people with treatment even as statistics show the state is on track to reach a record for opiate-related overdose deaths. Since Measure 110 went into effect in February, arrests for drug possession have plummeted across Oregon from a monthly average of about 1,200 to 200.”
Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel reinforced what the article said.
“It’s too early to tell if the treatment component of Measure 110 is working as well as we want it to work, but it’s not too early to tell if other components of the measure are working,” he told us in an email. “We know that fewer people are charged with crimes because of their substance use disorder, and fewer people are serving time in jail because of their substance disorder.”
Those changes can be made swiftly. Ramping up increased access to treatment will come more slowly, because it has long been inadequate in Oregon. Marijuana revenue was redirected away from schools and other purposes toward drug treatment under Measure 110. But most of that money has not been distributed, yet.
For now, Oregon has removed the serious repercussions for drug possession without having the safety net in place to help people end their addiction.