Drug Policy Action, in close partnership with allies in Oregon, is spearheading a groundbreaking ballot initiative in Oregon – Measure 110 – that will decriminalize possession of all drugs for personal use and improve access to treatment and other services for those that need and want it.
Ballots are being prepared and will be sent out across the state in less than four weeks. By voting yes on Measure 110, Oregonians will have the chance to shift away from criminalizing addiction, and toward a better, more humane, health-centered approach.
This policy reform is especially well matched to the state and to this moment. Currently, Oregon ranks nearly last in the country in access to drug treatment. In some parts of the state, drug treatment and recovery services are not available at all. In the places where these services do exist, the wait list to get in can be weeks – or even months – long. And unfortunately, that can be the difference between someone living or dying. With one to two Oregonians dying from accidental drug overdoses every single day, the need for Measure 110 could not be more urgent. Funded primarily from excess tax revenue from the sale of legal cannabis, the measure will significantly expand access to services. It will establish a path away from the criminal legal system, and towards supportive, voluntary, effective treatment.
With Measure 110, Oregon can light the way for the rest of the nation away from the failed war on drugs. Simple drug possession is by far the most arrested offense in the country, with 1.42 million arrests in 2018 alone, creating an array of harms to people and communities. Decades of criminalization in drug policy has distorted systems of care for people struggling with substance use disorders, contributing to an acute shortage of services for those who need and want them. Arresting, jailing, and prosecuting people for simple possession of drugs is cruel and ineffective. The current system increases trauma and saddles people with criminal records that impose barriers to the very things that are essential to rebuilding their lives: employment, housing, and education.
Measure 110 has received more than 100 endorsements from organizations across the state, including American College of Physicians, Oregon Nurses Association, Oregon School Psychologists’ Association, Coalition of Communities for Color, NAACP-Portland, Latino Network, Law Enforcement Action Partnership, Crime Victims’ Rights Alliance and Academy of Family Physicians.
We are proud of our strong partnership with Oregonians in this historic effort. Measure 110 is a vitally needed reform. It marks a turning point in the long struggle to turn away from paternalistic punishment and towards humane and effective treatment.