Oregon House making changes to Measure 110

MEDFORD, Ore.- On February 29th, the Oregon House took a major step in addressing Oregon’s addiction crisis by making changes to Measure 110. The bill passed with bipartisan support, and it now heads to the Senate. HB 4002, which would re-criminalize drugs under certain circumstances, passed in the House by a vote of 51 to 7. It allows up to 180 days in jail for people caught with small amounts of drugs, but only under certain conditions like probation violations.

“If our government didn’t implement the last one, and people were dying, and it was a crisis and an emergency, what’s different now?” asked Tera Hurst, Executive Director of Health Justice Recovery Alliance.

Measure 110 was passed by voters back in 2020 in the hopes of addressing addiction as a health issue rather than a legal one. It decriminalized the possession of many drugs, including small amounts of hard drugs like methamphetamine, fentanyl and heroin. But since its passage, data shows Oregon’s drug problem has gotten worse. Dr. Kevin Sabet, President and CEO of the Foundation for Drug Policy Solutions and a former White House drug policy advisor, believes Measure 110 was voted in under false pretenses.

“We all thought it would mean treatment over incarceration for people with addictions,” Sabet said, “No one wants to see people with addictions in jail or prison because they’re addicted to something. That’s a health issue. Unfortunately, Measure 110 had the exact opposite affect”.

Sabet says, with HB 4002 passing the House and giving the law some teeth, things can at least start going in the right direction.

“Oregonians know that the last three years have a disaster from a drug perspective,” said Sabet, “So, what this bill does is basically creates a whole new system and many of us are hopeful that it’s at least going to work somewhat better. The bar is pretty low, so that won’t be that difficult to do”.

Hurst says HB 4002 doesn’t solve any problems. Instead, she says it actually doubles down on the same mistakes made by the State in implementing Measure 110.

“If punishment worked, we would not be where we’re at today as a country, as a state,” Hurst said, “We just keep going back to this notion that, like, ‘Well, but maybe this time, it’ll be different’ which is the definition of insanity”.

Sabet, on the other hand, believes HB 4002 has the right amount of positive and negative reinforcement to get people back on the right track.

“For the person that really is well intentioned, that wants to get help, knows they have a problem, or, at least, needs that push and nudge, I don’t see those people spending many days in prison, if any,” Sabet said.

Sabet and Hurst agree that there was potential for the Measure to have worked, if it had been better funded and had more accountability.

“We’re three years in, no citation, the services are just up and running, and still, people are, like, hiring and trying to buy the properties and do all of the thing that they need to do to get set,” Hurst said.

Sabet says now, the Senate and Governor need to pass this bill, and they need to do so quickly in order for the state to really see some recovery. But Hurst says this path won’t work and it will actually do more harm than good.

“It’s frustrating to think that we’re now going to try what we know is a failed approach,” Hurst said, “Criminalizing people for their addiction has never made anybody safer, it actually creates, you know, higher rates of overdose after leaving jail and incarceration”.

A representative from OnTrack told NBC5 it’s waiting until a different House Bill passes before they make any comment on changes to Measure 110. NBC5 also reached out to Addictions Recovery Center and haven’t heard back yet.

© 2024 KOBI-TV NBC5. All rights reserved unless otherwise stated.

NBC5 News Reporter Lauren Pretto grew up in Livermore, California and attended University of California, Santa Cruz, graduating with a double major in Film/Digital Media and Literature with a concentration in Creative Writing. Lauren is a lover of books, especially Agatha Christie and Gothic novels. When her nose isn't buried in a book, she knits, bakes, and writes.
Skip to content