It’s been one year since Measure 110 went into effect, it’ll undergo an audit this year

Published: Feb. 10, 2022 at 10:36 PM PST
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PORTLAND, Ore. (KPTV) - It’s been more than a year since Measure 110 went into effect in Oregon, decriminalizing possession of drugs like heroin and meth.

Those involved are split on how the measure has worked so far.

“I’ve seen that it’s been, what I would call, a colossal failure,” Washington County District Attorney Kevin Barton, said.

“There’s a lot to be proud of, especially a year in,” Tera Hurst, the executive director of the Oregon Health Justice Recovery Alliance, said.

It went into effect February 1, 2021, decriminalizing street drugs and establishing a program that would fund addiction recovery centers.

“On average, (in) Oregon, we arrested about 9,000 people in a year for possession charges. Last year, there was only 1600 citations given due to this law. What that really represents is less trauma,” Hurst said.

In cases involving smaller amounts of illegal drugs, the measure reduced them from misdemeanors to Class E violations with a maximum fine of $100. When a person is cited, they’re also given a phone number to be screened by an addiction treatment professional, if they choose. But, few people take advantage of that.

Between February and December 2021, there were more than 1,800 Class E violations and only 55 people completed a screening. Barton said he’s not surprised.

“Our office no longer deals with people that are simply possessing drugs but what we do deal with are the collateral effects of drug use and addiction in our community,” he said. “We’ve seen increases across the board. For example, we’ve seen increases in overdose deaths, we’ve seen increases in the use of Narcan, which is used to counteract a potential overdose. In fact, the Washington County law enforcement, I sat in a meeting today where it was reported Narcan administrations in 2021 more than doubled compared to 2020 and that’s just for law enforcement administrations.”

However, Hurst said there’s more to it than that data. According to the Oregon Health Authority, more than 16,000 Oregonians have accessed services through this funding, whether for harm reduction or housing.

$30 million in grants have gone to more than 67 organizations and 11 tribes.

“Right now, Oregon along with every other state in the nation is facing an overdose crisis. That means a lot of people we love are dying,” she said. “With 16,000 people, if 60% are accessing harm reduction services and overdose prevention services, that means we are stopping deaths and that, to me, is so much more important than whether or not you pay a ticket or call a phone number.”

There is no set date for when the audit of this measure might happen, but it has to be done by the end of the year.