Measure 110 addiction hotline goes cold
PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) - Measure 110 decriminalized drugs, making possession of small amounts punishable only by a ticket rather than arrest or even a misdemeanor charge. That ticket was supposed to provide an avenue to help. Recipients could simply call a treatment hotline and have the $100 fine erased.
But almost nobody is calling the hotline.
Data from Feb. 2021, when the measure was implemented, until September of this year shows that out of 6,271 drug possession tickets issues, only 8% or 499 people called the hotline. Of those who called the hotline, one in 10 ended up receiving treatment, a total of 50 people.
“So the potential there is tremendous. The gap is not in what happens when people call here. The gap is in getting people to call in the first place,” said Dwight Holton, the CEO of Lines for Life which manages the addiction hotline that ticket recipients can call to get their fine waived.
The problem is, the phone number isn’t on the citation handed out by most police in the state.
Police officers use a uniform citation for all tickets they issue. That ticket was never changed to include information about Measure 110 nor the phone number for the addiction hotline.
“We’ve been urging the state of Oregon to get that phone number on the ticket to make that a direct pathway the way it is with a speeding ticket or a traffic violation. It hasn’t happened, and I don’t know why not,” said Holton. “So I gave up lobbying on it because it just wasn’t moving.”
A representative from the Oregon Judicial Department said that it is a lengthy process to get the uniform citation changed. The state organization has suspended efforts to do so pending an anticipated change to the number being used.
“I think the hope was to create an alternative pathway with a citation could get someone engaged in services. That has not been what we’ve seen,” said Holt. “What we’ve seen is that the most common thing that people do with the citations is throw them away.”
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