Frequently Asked Questions
I have a citation. What do I do?
Those seeking help or to have their citation waived may access services through their local BHRN, or by calling the Lines for Life 24/7 hotline at (503) 575-3769 or (541) 575-3769. Find your local BHRN here.
Why Measure 110?
The nationwide overdose crisis and its impact on Oregon is a public health emergency. People we love are dying everyday. The CDC reports that over 107,000 people died from drug overdoses in 2021 — that’s about 12 deaths per hour. Oregon ranks 50th in the nation in access to vital harm reduction and addiction recovery services, while also ranking second in the nation for people with Substance Use Disorder. Measure 110 was created in response to the overdose crisis. Measure 110 was also created to help address the suffering we’re seeing on our streets by increasing access to critical services, including housing.
In 2020, Oregon voters overwhelmingly approved Measure 110, giving our state the opportunity to turn the dark realities of the overdose crisis into a beacon of hope for the rest of the country. We may be the first state to decriminalize, but we won’t be the last. New polling shows that people of every race and place have been touched by the overdose crisis, and that a majority of people across party lines support evidence-based harm reduction measures to end it – including decriminalization.
Measure 110 removes criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of drugs in favor of a health-based and science-backed approach to substance use. Measure 110 was tailored to address Oregon’s unique challenges, drawing from global best practices — from decriminalization in Portugal and Switzerland to Eugene’s CAHOOTS model, which saves the city an estimated $8.5 million in public safety spending annually.
Rather than labeling drug users as criminals, Measure 110 treats substance use as a public health issue affecting all of us, from spouses and siblings to young children and teens, from pregnant women to grandparents. People in our communities seeking harm reduction and addiction recovery services will now be able to access those services more quickly, closer to home, and by someone who shares their culture and/or language. The law intentionally prioritizes funding services not typically covered by Medicaid. With Measure 110 funding in place, people who lack health insurance coverage can access these services for free.
How does Measure 110 work?
- It decriminalized possession of small amounts of drugs as of February 1, 2021, by reducing criminal possession offenses from misdemeanors to civil infractions. Instead of arrests and criminal records, now people possessing small amounts of drugs will be cited and fined $100. They will be given the phone number for a 24/7 support line (503-575-3769 or 541-575-3769) and can participate in a social services screening. Upon completion of the screening, their fines will be waived and they will be linked to vital services in the community.
- The law requires that at least one Behavioral Health Resource Network (BHRN) be established in each county, guaranteeing that all Oregonians will have access to a full array of low-barrier addiction services — including treatment, peer-supported recovery, harm reduction services, and supportive, transitional, and long-term housing. The BHRNs will provide services for undocumented and uninsured people and will not charge for the services they provide. The law builds on critical services offered by existing community-based providers throughout the state, wherever possible. The services offered by these providers will make it possible for people who use drugs to be immediately assessed and linked to treatment, care and other appropriate services.
- It ensures increased access to vital services, including:
- Behavioral Health Treatment that is evidence-based, trauma-informed, culturally specific, linguistically accessible, and patient-centered;
- Peer support and recovery services designed to help people continue to address their substance use;
- Housing; and
- Harm reduction interventions including overdose prevention, access to naloxone and hydrochloride along with drug education and outreach.
- It funds services through grants and contracts from cannabis tax revenue in excess of $45 million a year. The Oregon Legislature allocated the full $302 million from the fund for the 2021-23 biennium.
- It guarantees oversight and accountability. The Act establishes an Oversight and Accountability Council (OAC) composed of people with lived SUD experience, including people who actively use drugs, as well as with addiction and service delivery experts. Supported by the Oregon Health Authority, the Council determines how funds will be distributed to grant and contract applicants for increasing community access to care. The Secretary of State will conduct regular financial and performance audits.
How much money has been spent on Measure 110 services so far?
So far more than $302 million has been allocated for critical addiction recovery and harm reduction services under Measure 110 so far — that’s five times more than what Oregon currently spends on non-Medicaid funding for addiction services.
Did Measure 110 legalize drugs?
No; decriminalization is not legalization. Measure 110 only decriminalized personal possession of small amounts of drugs, reducing criminal possession offenses from misdemeanors to civil infractions. Other conduct involving drugs — like manufacturing, dealing, intent to sell, driving under the influence, etc. — remain illegal.
Are drug overdoses on the rise because of Measure 110?
Measure 110 funds overdose prevention services. Like gun violence, drug overdoses are on the rise all across the country — not just in Oregon where possession of small amounts of drugs have been decriminalized. Oregon ranks 50th in the nation in access to critical addiction recovery services. The influx of funds from Measure 110 will help Oregon meet the tremendous need for these services, and is five times the amount that Oregon currently spends on harm reduction and addiction recovery services.
Is Measure 110 making the fentanyl crisis worse?
Fentanyl entered the illicit drug supply years before Measure 110 took effect. The CDC reports that overdose deaths are rising to record levels nationwide. Blaming Measure 110 locally is politically convenient but incredibly inaccurate. Oregon is fortunate that Measure 110 funding is available to help reduce the likelihood of fentanyl-related overdose deaths by investing a total of $302 million in culturally competent, evidence-based treatment — including overdose prevention and harm reduction.
If we are serious about saving lives amid the nationwide overdose crisis we need to get serious about solutions, not baselessly pointing fingers at health alternatives like Measure 110, which is designed to address a problem that has been more than 50 years in the making.
Isn’t getting arrested an important way that people access addiction recovery services?
Incarceration for drug use actually causes more harm. Incarceration worsens health outcomes, causes more trauma, and increases the risk of dying from an overdose. While there may be powerful anecdotal examples of how incarceration helped someone find recovery, this is far from the norm. Data shows that incarceration causes more trauma that makes recovery harder to obtain, and even increases the risk of dying from an overdose once released.
Measure 110 is changing the system so that there is no wrong door to access services. You don’t have to get arrested before you are maybe offered help. Our loved ones struggling with substance use can now either call the 110 hotline to get connected to services, or seek them out directly through local providers. Measure 110 is changing the addiction recovery service landscape so that regardless of the path, supportive services will be more readily available closer to home.
Won’t this law give people who use drugs a free pass, making it easier for them to commit and get away with crimes?
No; to be clear, Measure 110 only decriminalized possession of small amounts of drugs. All other drug crimes — like manufacturing, dealing, intent to sell, driving under the influence, etc. — all remain illegal. Keeping people with substance use issues out of the criminal justice system makes it easier for them to access critical services. Many crime indicators in Oregon have remained unchanged since before Measure 110 went into effect, or even gone down:
- In Portland, assault rates in the city have remained relatively constant since 2018 and sex offenses appear to be trending down.
- In Washington County, violent crime has remained unchanged in recent years while property crime appears to be declining.
- In Clackamas County, some categories of property crime have increased while violent crime has remained unchanged.
- In Salem, crime rates have held steady since before the pandemic. Assaults and property crimes such as burglaries and robberies have remained constant in recent years.
- Crime rates have not changed significantly in Eugene and in more rural parts of the state like Josephine and Wallowa counties.
Some fluctuation in crime rates from year to year is typical, and it’s notoriously difficult to draw conclusions or divine long-term trends from small variations in recent data.
What benefits would you hope that Measure 110 will have on addiction-related programs and services in Oregon?
Measure 110 allocated $302 million for low-barrier treatment, harm reduction, housing and peer support. That money is being invested in services through a grant process administered by the Measure 110 Oversight & Accountability Council (OAC). Grants are prioritized for culturally and linguistically specific services that serve communities that have been disproportionately harmed by the war on drugs. Support for existing community-based providers is also prioritized wherever possible. Counties and local government services may also apply for Measure 110 funding.
The influx of funding will not only help people in our communities who struggle with addiction, but also help to develop the local behavioral health workforce, creating jobs for people to help others in their own communities.
According to the Oregon Criminal Justice Commission, nearly 9,000 Oregonians were arrested each year for drug possession prior to the passage of Measure 110. Measure 110 has averted thousands of these arrests, preventing thousands from being saddled with the lifelong barriers that can come with even a misdemeanor drug charge–barriers like lack of access to housing, employment, job promotions, student loans, or even obtaining a credit card.
Data from the Oregon Criminal Justice Commission shows that Measure 110 has had a significant effect in reducing drug arrests and convictions, even when you account for the drop in arrests during the pandemic. Drug arrests overall are down over 80 percent. (1,082 arrests in Dec. 2019 compared to 182 arrests in Dec. of 2021.) Arrests for simple drug possession are way down — from 157 possession arrests to only 18 during that same time period. This is a big deal, because a criminal record for even a misdemeanor drug charge can saddle people with criminal records that create lifelong barriers to employment and housing. That’s no longer happening in Oregon.
What are some real world examples of how this approach to addiction is working in other places?
Measure 110 was written based on the most successful models used in other countries and was tailored specifically to address Oregon’s addiction crisis. In 2001, Portugal shifted its approach to treat addiction as a disease, rather than a crime. As is happening with Measure 110, Portugal invested heavily in harm reduction and recovery services. As a result, overdose and HIV rates plummeted, drug use decreased, drug-related crime decreased, and law enforcement reported higher rates of job satisfaction as they’re able to pursue drug distribution channels and drug dealers, as opposed to people using drugs. Portugal is able to spend less money on incarceration while reducing additional rates and saving lives. Similar results have been found in Switzerland.
We’ve also seen how a health-first approach to drug use works far better than a criminal justice approach to drug use here in Oregon. Since 1989, Eugene-based CAHOOTS, launched by White Bird Community Clinic, has provided a mental health first response for crises involving mental illness, homelessness, and addiction. It is estimated that 20% to 50% of fatal encounters with law enforcement involved an individual with a mental illness. The CAHOOTS model demonstrates that these fatal encounters are not inevitable. The program also saves the city of Eugene an estimated $8.5 million in public safety spending annually, further illustrating that a health-based approach to addiction and behavioral health is not only more effective, but far less costly than approaching these issues through a criminal justice lens.
Do you have to get a citation before you can get help through the program?
No. A person does not have to receive a citation to access addiction services. Measure 110 services are available to anyone who wants and needs them. People with co-occuring mental health and SUDs are also eligible to receive support through Measure 110 services. The program allows for insurance to be billed, but people without insurance can access services without cost.
What is harm reduction and why is it funded through 110?
Harm reduction is about saving lives. Harm reduction recognizes people on their journey wherever they’re at, and provides them with the tools to keep them safe, whether that be access to naloxone and hydrochloride, drug education and outreach, safe housing, or other services. Harm reduction can help prepare people for receiving addiction recovery services later, should they wish to do so. Rather than seeking an unattainable “drug-free world,” harm reduction focuses on reducing drug-related damage.
Someone accessing harm reduction services is five times more likely to end up seeking out addiction recovery services than someone who is using drugs and is not engaged in any kind of harm reduction. The American Medical Association recognizes how vital harm reduction services are in saving lives and preventing drug overdoses. They recommend all states move to decriminalize fentanyl test strips, remove the prescription status of naloxone to make it over the counter; and to hold insurers accountable for repeated, willful violations of state and federal mental health and Substance Use Disorder parity laws.
What is the Health Justice Recovery Alliance?
The Oregon Health Justice Recovery Alliance (HJRA) is an advocacy coalition made up of community organizations and experts from across the state who bring deep knowledge and experience from working to serve and strengthen local communities. HJRA is the only advocacy organization whose work is fully focused on Measure 110 implementation, working to ensure that the new law centers on the needs of the communities most impacted by the war on drugs: Black, Latino, Indigenous, Tribal and other communities of color.
How will the law reduce racial disparities in drug arrests and convictions?
Independent government research released by the Oregon Criminal Justice Commission found that disparities in drug arrests and convictions will nearly be eliminated through the Drug Addiction Treatment & Recovery Act. Specifically, the report found:
- Racial disparities in drug arrests will drop by 95%;
- Convictions of Black and Indigenous Oregonians will drop by 94%;
- “This drop in convictions will result in fewer collateral consequences stemming from criminal justice system involvement, which include difficulties in finding employment, loss of access to student loans for education, difficulties in obtaining housing, restrictions on professional licensing, and others,” the report says.
- The report noted that the actual reduction of disparities could be even more dramatic. “Other disparities can exist at different stages of the criminal justice process, including inequities in police stops, jail bookings, bail, pretrial detention, prosecutorial decisions, and others.”
Law enforcement disproportionately targets low-income communities and people of color when enforcing drug laws, despite the fact that people of all races use drugs at similar rates. Black people comprise 26 percent of all drug-related arrests nationally even though they comprise 13 percent of the US population. In Oregon prior to Measure 110, Black and Indigenous people were disproportionately more likely than white people to be arrested for drug possession and be convicted of felony drug possession, even though people of color are consistently documented by the U.S. government to use drugs at similar rates to people of other races.
People of color experience discrimination at every stage of the judicial system and are more likely to be stopped, searched, arrested, convicted, harshly sentenced and saddled with a lifelong criminal record. This is particularly the case for drug law violations. Research shows that nationally prosecutors are twice as likely to pursue a mandatory minimum sentence for Black people as for white people charged with the same offense. Among people who received a mandatory minimum sentence in 2011, 31% were Black.
Are you working with law enforcement to make sure they understand how the law works and how it should be enforced?
Yes. As with any other new law, it takes time to get the word out to all stakeholders including law enforcement. HJRA has been presenting to Local Public Safety Coordinating Councils (LPSCCs) across the state to provide them with information on Measure 110, what it requires, and how it can help them to better serve people in their communities who struggle with addiction issues. Each county has its own LPSCC that includes the county’s district attorney, local law enforcement, judges, corrections officials, and others.
It is essential that the citation a person receives be a uniform one which includes a number to call, along with clear instructions on how to get their fine waived and to access local services.