Frequently Asked Questions
I have a citation. What do I do?
Call (503) 575-3769 for a social services screening and to get your fine waived.
What is the Drug Addiction Treatment & Recovery Act?
The Drug Addiction Treatment & Recovery Act decriminalizes personal possession of small amounts of all drugs while expanding access to addiction treatment and other health services. People will no longer be arrested and jailed for small amounts of drugs, which saddles people with lifelong barriers to employment and housing. Instead, they will be connected to health and recovery services, including housing assistance, to help them get their lives back on track.
How does the Act work?
The Act consists of five key components:
- The new law will utilize and expand existing community-based providers as Behavioral Health Resource Networks to provide services throughout the state to immediately assess the needs of people who use drugs and link them to treatment, care and services.
- Drug possession will be decriminalized, reducing criminal possession offenses from misdemeanors to civil infractions. Instead of arrests and criminal records, people found to be possessing small amounts of drugs will be cited and fined $100. They will be given the phone number for a 24/7 support line to connect them with a local peer support specialist. The peer will conduct a social services needs assessment. Upon completion, their fine will be waived and they will be linked to vital services. (Call 503- 575-3769 to reach the support line.)
- It increases access to vital services, including:
- Behavioral Health Treatment that is evidence-based, trauma-informed, culturally specific and patient-centered;
- Peer support and recovery services designed to help people remain on a pathway of recovery;
- Housing for persons with Substance Use Disorder;
- Harm reduction interventions including overdose prevention, access to naloxone hydrochloride and other drug education and outreach.
- Services will be paid for with grants from excess cannabis tax revenue above $45 million a year and law enforcement savings.
- It guarantees oversight and accountability. The Act establishes an Oversight and Accountability Council composed of people with lived experience and addiction and service delivery experts. Supported by the Oregon Health Authority, the Council will determine how funds will be distributed to grant applicants for increasing community access to care. The Secretary of State will conduct financial and performance audits every two years.
Does the Act require building new recovery centers?
No. Addiction recovery services will utilize and expand existing community based providers; to immediately assess the needs of people who use drugs and link them to treatment, care and services. The Act ensures that addiction recovery services, including behavioral health treatment, peer supported recovery, harm reduction, and housing, will be present in each county.
How will the Act reduce racial disparities?
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 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.” However, the Criminal Justice Commission could not obtain local data on such disparities.
How is the Drug Addiction Treatment & Recovery Act funded?
The Act is funded through cannabis taxes above $45 million a year, and law enforcement savings from reduced arrest and adjudication of drug offenses:
- Marijuana Tax Revenue: The state estimated that when marijuana legalization was fully implemented, tax revenue would reach $17- $40 million a year. It’s now much higher. Programs originally slated to receive portions of this revenue will continue to receive the first $45 million. Revenues above $45 million will be directed to fund additional drug treatment, recovery, harm reduction and sober housing services across Oregon.
- Law Enforcement Savings: A state analysis projects the Act will save the criminal justice system an estimated $24.5 million in the 2021-2023 biennium because of fewer arrests and incarcerations. This savings will go toward the addiction recovery centers.
What impact does the Act have on education funding?
The Oregon State School Fund will continue to receive $36 million per biennium from cannabis revenue. The projected impact of the Act on the K-12 education budget is 0.4%, which will need to be made up from other sources. Since marijuana was legalized in Oregon, the school funding budget has increased by over 20% while general fund support of drug addiction services has declined by 85%. That severe disinvestment in treatment and recovery is being felt across Oregon, including in Oregon schools. Drug addiction, criminalization of addiction, and lack of trauma-informed, culturally-responsive services all do damage. That is why educators overwhelmingly agreed that it was time to dedicate more resources to provide a pathway to recovery for students and families experiencing addiction.
How much money will the new law generate?
The new law will generate approximately $100 million a year for services — four to six times more than what Oregon currently spends on non-Medicaid funding for addiction services.
Who decides how the money will be spent?
The Act established an Oversight and Accountability Board. That board, appointed by the Oregon Health Authority, will consist of the following people:
- a representative of the Oregon Health Authority, Health Systems Division Behavioral Health Services;
- three members of communities that have been disproportionately impacted by existing drug laws;
- a physician specializing in addiction medicine;
- a licensed clinical social worker;
- an evidence-based substance use disorder provider;
- a harm reduction services provider;
- a person specializing in housing services for people with substance use disorder or a diagnosed mental health condition;
- an academic researcher specializing in drug use or drug policy;
- at least two people who suffered or suffer from substance use disorder;
- at least two recovery peers;
- a mental or behavioral health provider;
- a representative of a coordinated care organization;
- and a person who works for a non-profit organization that advocates for persons who experience or have experienced substance use disorder.
Why should the Oregon legislature fully fund the Act now?
The Oregon Legislature has a duty to honor voters’ wishes and invest in treatment. People experiencing substance use disorder — and their loved ones — can’t afford to wait. Two out of three Oregonians know someone impacted by substance use disorder. When we lose one person to addiction, that loss creates ripples and impacts all of us. The COVID-19 pandemic has made Oregon’s addiction crisis even worse; nearly 40% more Oregonians died of opioid overdoses in 2020 than in 2019, while deaths from stimulants grew 21%, according to Oregon State Medical Examiner data. The Drug Addiction Treatment & Recovery Act offers a much needed solution to help Oregonians and their families now, at a time when Oregon’s addiction crisis is growing. We owe it to Oregonians to make sure that the Act is fully funded, without delay.
Who supports the Drug Addiction Treatment & Recovery Act?
Oregon Voters: Oregonians in counties, both large and small, voted overwhelmingly in favor of the Act during the November 2020 election, passing it by a 17-point margin.
Leading Voices in Addiction Services and Criminal Justice: Including every addiction doctor at OHSU, the former director of Mental Health and Addiction Services for Oregon, the co-founder of Oregon Recovers, four district attorneys, and the retired Multnomah County Chief Criminal Judge who has probably handled more drug cases than anyone else in Oregon.
Community Organizations: The campaign to pass the Act into law received organizational endorsements from more than 140 organizations, including the American College of Physicians, the Oregon Nurses Association, the Oregon School Psychologists Association, the Oregon Academy of Family Physicians, the Oregon Public Health Association, Central City Concern, White Bird Clinic, ACLU, the Coalition of Communities of Color, the NAACP, the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, the Latino Network, Planned Parenthood, AFSCME, SEIU, UFCW, AFL-CIO, and IBEW.
The Oregon Health Justice Recovery Alliance, the newly formed coalition working to ensure that the Act gets fully implemented, is made up of over 75 community organizations from across the state — all of whom bring deep knowledge and experience working to serve and strengthen local communities.
Will these services be available to all parts of Oregon?
Yes. The measure calls for at least one Behavioral Health Resource Network (BHRN) in each Oregon county. Each BHRN will provide 24/7 triage, to assess a client’s need for immediate medical or other treatment. Staff at BHRNs will conduct a comprehensive behavioral health needs assessment for each client and provide warm hand-offs to services. There will also be a telephonic Center to ensure access.
How will the Act improve the system?
Oregon’s treatment system needs to serve way more people, and this Act allows for such improvements and makes them easier to implement. In addition to de-linking treatment from criminal penalties, this measure will ensure people who are experts on drugs, health and equity will decide where the money goes. The Oversight and Accountability Board can reward programs that do good work with proven outcomes, and audits will allow for evaluations of where the money is going and how effectively it is being used.