PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Starting Monday, user amounts of illegal drugs will be decriminalized in the state of Oregon.
Voters passed Measure 110 in November. It reclassifies personal drug possession to a Class E violation with a maximum $100 fine. 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 — though there is no criminal penalty for failing to pay the fine. Those services would also be expanded under Measure 110 and funded with a large chunk of marijuana tax revenue.
It is still not clear if the health screenings will actually be available — because Governor Kate Brown has proposed delaying the financial portions of the measure until July 1, 2022 due to the challenging economic times brought on largely by the coronavirus pandemic.
If the delay is adopted, Woodburn Police Chief Jim Ferraris said, “We may be citing people for this violation and they go to court but there’s no mechanism for this health screening to take place because there’s no funding for it.”
The measure takes effect Monday, but the Multnomah County District Attorney adopted the measure in December. A spokesperson for the Portland Police Bureau said officers have already switched to issuing citations instead of making arrests. Other agencies, though, are still working through the logistics.
Guidance from the Oregon Department of Justice (DOJ) outlines the amount of drugs that exceeds personal use limits. For example, 1 gram or more of heroin, 2 grams or more of meth or cocaine, and 40 or more oxycodone pills. The DOJ also sent a bulletin to law enforcement agencies with information about how searches and seizures will be impacted by the measure.
User amounts under Measure 110
- Less than 1 gram of heroin.
- Less than 1 gram, or less than 5 pills, of MDMA.
- Less than 2 grams of methamphetamine.
- Less than 40 units of LSD.
- Less than 12 grams of psilocybin.
- Less than 40 units of methadone.
- Less than 40 pills of oxycodone.
- Less than 2 grams of cocaine.
Overdose deaths spiked 40% last year, according to the Oregon Health Authority. Experts say addiction thrives when people are isolated. However, According to the Oregon Criminal Justice Commission, yearly convictions related to drug possession are expected to drop by more than 90%.
The measure also creates a Treatment and Recovery Services fund that will cover the cost of 15 new Addiction Recovery Centers (ARCs) and wraparound services. The OHA was required to create an Oversight and Accountability Council along with a temporary ARC in the form of a 24/7 hotline, which went live on Monday morning.
“We are proud of the fact that we met these requirements on time, and that the new law will help us establish a more health-based, equitable and effective approach to drug addiction in Oregon,” said OHA Behavioral Health Director Steve Allen.
The Oversight and Accountability Council will meet for the first time at the end of the month.