Oregon’s Measure 110 is ‘first-of-its-kind experiment’

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PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Oregon voters passed Measure 110, making the state the first in the country to decriminalize the personal-use amounts of hard drugs.

The initiative will reclassify personal drug possession to a Class E violation with a maximum $100 fine. It does not affect people selling or manufacturing illegal drugs. People caught with user-amounts of drugs could get the fine waived by completing a health assessment, during which they could be connected with treatment, recovery and housing services. Those services would also be expanded under Measure 110 and funded with a large chunk of marijuana tax revenue.

Measure 110 goes into effect on Feb. 1, 2021, but there’s still a lot of work ahead.

A statewide grant program will need to be started to fund treatment services. The Oregon Health Authority will also need to appoint a council in charge of oversight and accountability to oversee the distribution of funds.

“I think, like any measure that’s passed by the voters, there’s a whole list of things that can happen, that can be funded and now it’s time for us to do that prioritization work and that prioritization might look different in different counties, which is also why it’s important to think about how this gets distributed equitably,” said Mercedes Elizalde, the public policy director at Central City Concern.

Washington County District Attorney Kevin Barton was an outspoken critic of the measure. He said his office will see fewer possession of controlled substance cases as a result of the measure. But he said it’s hard to know the full impact the new law will have on the criminal justice system and whether it will actually help more people get drug treatment.

“It is a first-of-its-kind in the nation experiment and we are going to see the results of that experiment play out over the course of the next several years’ time,” said Washington County District Attorney Kevin Barton.

Barton added there are many unanswered questions about the financial impacts of Measure 110 and how it will be implemented.

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