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Oregon Considers Repealing Drug Decriminalization Act

In 2020, Oregon voters made history by passing Measure 110 and decriminalizing possession of personal amounts of illicit drugs like fentanyl, methamphetamine, and more. This measure passed with 58% of the vote.

Since then, Oregon has implemented various harm reduction practices and accessible addiction treatment services. However, many Oregonians feel these initiatives haven’t been as effective as hoped. Some harm reduction policies, such as increased access to naloxone or fentanyl test strips, have been quick to put into practice. Others, like free detox centers and transitional housing facilities, take much longer to get off the ground.

When Measure 110 passed, the state funneled millions of dollars of cannabis-tax money into programs like helplines and addiction treatment. Unfortunately, the high costs of behavioral health care, housing, and related services mean that it may not be quite enough.

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What Happens if Measure 110 Is Reversed?

Both Democratic and Republican lawmakers are considering a recently unveiled proposal that would re-implement penalties for possession and public drug use in Oregon. It would overrule Measure 110 but would not completely undo it.

If passed, the proposal would introduce misdemeanor penalties for possession of meth, heroin, or fentanyl. People facing those charges could look at a year of jail time or fines up to around $6,000. Fortunately, Democrats are pushing for alternative options to lengthy jail sentences and fines, such as state-mandated addiction treatment.

Various parties have both criticized and approved this proposal. Some people have expressed concerns that this will be a step backward toward War on Drugs policies that will ultimately harm people and reduce access to behavioral health services. Others believe it can help cut down on the rampant public fentanyl use that has become widespread in certain parts of Oregon cities.

Although Measure 110 passed in 2020, voters have become increasingly less fond of the bill in the years since. The future of the bill still hangs in the air, but hopefully, lawmakers can find a compromise that doesn’t remove the forward progress made by Measure 110 in the last three years.

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