Coalition files ballot initiative for changes to Oregon’s Measure 110
PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) – A new coalition has filed a ballot initiative with the intent of bringing changes to Measure 110.
Measure 110, passed in 2020, decriminalizes the possession of small amounts of drugs, such as cocaine and heroin, reclassifying them as civil violations rather than criminal offenses. It also allocates funding for addiction treatment and recovery services using a portion of the state’s marijuana tax revenue.
According to the ‘Fix Ballot Measure 110′ coalition, the group is seeking more drug treatment for more people and replacing voluntary treatment with required treatment. They’re also seeking to bring back criminalization for possession of hard drugs like fentanyl.
“I think Ballot Measure 110 had the best of intentions,” said Max Williams, with the Coalition to Fix and Improve Ballot Measure 110. “Our homeless crisis didn’t get created by 110, our behavioral health crisis wasn’t created by Measure 110, and our challenges with crime didn’t get created by Ballot Measure 110, but I think almost everybody universally agrees that Ballot Measure 110 made all of those things worse. Not by intention, but by simply not understanding that by decriminalizing these drugs that we were going to create the environment that we have created in many of our cities around the state.”
According to the Coalition, the group is seeking to ‘fulfill the promise of Measure 110 – with more drug treatment for more people more quickly, replacing voluntary with required treatment, making possession of hard drugs like fentanyl a crime again, prioritizing treatment over prosecution and jail, prohibiting the use of hard drugs in public and maintaining cannabis taxes for proven treatment programs’.
“The proponents of Measure 110 talked about meeting addicts where they are,” said Williams. “We completely support that but we just can’t’ leave them where they are and right now Measure 110 is leaving people in this situation. Along with it, it’s collateral damage for the community, making the rest of the community unsafe, making the business situation not effective, causing all sorts of consequential damages to our communities. That’s what we are trying to address with this opportunity.”
Tera Hurst, the Executive Director for the Health Justice Recovery Alliance, says Oregon is going through a drug crisis, but that the Coalition’s policies won’t work.
“It’s frustrating and disappointing because what they are offering voters with their proposal is more of a failed policy that we have already seen play of for 50 years,” said Hurst. “The failed war on drugs, we are seeing where they want to re-criminalize folks. We know criminalization doesn’t work. We have 50 years of proof. What we see now, after 50 years of criminalizing people is a drug supply that is more deadly and more accessible and cheap. It would direct and divert funding over to a perpetuating a model that doesn’t work.”
Hurst admits the rollout of Measure 110 has been difficult, partially because it passed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“COVID exposed all of our societal vulnerabilities,” said Hurst. “We’re still seeing that play out. We didn’t solve for the aftermath of COVID and just as importantly, for what was happening anyways. We just didn’t see it as much. Increased houselessness, overdose death rates increasing. What Oregon has that is unique is Measure 110. We put $300 million into this system that is system of care that is really starting to finally materialize. We are seeing more openings of detox and treatment centers, housing, peer recovery support centers. All of these evidence-based things that we know work that had never been getting a steady funding stream before. It took a little while. The rollout was not pretty, it was hard. It was also hard because we were trying to come out of a recovery and this was another thing the government had to respond to, but quite frankly, it should have been responding to it as a crisis because addiction and overdose crisis is a crisis in Oregon. I think that without Measure 110 and without the services we have been able to lift up and stand up over the past year we would have had a lot more communities hurting and potentially overdose deaths. ultimately, Measure 110 for what it actually was meant to do and what it’s able to do is now starting to get up and running. There are still a lot of problems that our communities face that we all need to get together and solve and this ballot measure is a distraction from that.”
As for what’s next for the Coalition, Williams says they plan on meeting with state lawmakers.
“Between now and the February session we hope to have a chance to work and talk with the legislature,” said Williams. “There’s a real urgency to address this issue sooner rather than later. We would love the legislature to actually move on this so we don’t even have to do a ballot measure, but in the abundance of caution that may not happen, we’ve created this ballot measure that after February will be in the signature gathering process so that if the legislature won’t address it, we’ll have the opportunity to be able to address in November of 2024.”
Hurst says they hope to continue working on Measure 110 and funding services she says are proven to help those in need.
“Our hope is that we can continue to make changes in the legislature as issues come forward or problems arise. We just fixed the roll out issue in the 2023 legislature trying to make sure that the grant process will be a lot smoother and there is more accountability. I think this legislative session we really need to make sure that law enforcement really knows what tools they have and if they don’t have the tools they need, them those are fixes and conversations we will need to have. Ultimately, our focus is on continuing to try and make the system better. We will be continuing to make sure that providers of services get the resources they need so they can serve our communities. We are willing to talk and work with everybody. Ultimately, this is about funding and making sure we get enough money in this system to provide the services that everybody deserves and that our communities really wants. We can make changes along the way, that’s what policy is all about and why they call it policy making. You are constantly striving to improve after being in the field. There are some issues that have come up, let’s go solve them and not distract everybody and pull the funding from one group to another and reinvest in a system that we know is not the right system for healthcare.”
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