PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – During a press conference on Tuesday, the Oregon Health Authority discussed challenges facing the rollout of Measure 110 funding amid efforts to get resources to those suffering from addiction and mental health issues in the state.

Voters approved the measure in 2020 which decriminalized small amounts of hard drugs and funded addiction and mental health programs.

However, the rollout of the funding for those programs was slow. As KOIN 6 News reported in June, funding applications stacked up because state officials underestimated how long it would take to get the money out the door.

“There was a lot of learning on the fly. During the time, the COVID-19 pandemic was depleting Oregon’s health care workforce, diverting critical resources, and driving a spike in demand for these services,” said OHA Behavioral Health Director Steve Allen.

Sabrina Garcia, a member of the Measure 110 Oversight and Accountability Council, explained “we know that there was a lot of disappointment about the early pace of our work and I share in that disappointment, but the reality is you can’t fix a system that is broken in just 18 months.” 

Measure 110 funds are now going to treatment and recovery programs. OHA says by the end of September, it will have spent or obligated $845 million of the more than $1 billion lawmakers earmarked through the end of the year.