After voters in the state of Oregon passed a ballot initiative to decriminalize all hard drugs, overdose rates increased by 700%.
In order to encourage those dealing with drug addiction to seek medical help, Oregon voters approved decriminalizing all hard drugs. The bill, known as Ballot Measure 110, was the first of its kind in the United States and took effect in February 2021 after being passed by the public the previous year.
The passage of Ballot Measure 110 changed the law in Oregon so that it was no longer a felony or minor misdemeanor to possess illegal drugs. People with hard narcotics are liable to a maximum penalty of $100, which may be waived if they call a public hotline and obtain a free health assessment.
A $100 fine will be levied if a person is discovered to have a “personal amount” of narcotics like heroin, cocaine, or methamphetamine on their person.
Only $40 million of the planned $300 million for public health initiatives to combat addiction has been dispersed.
Measure 110, on the other hand, has resulted in far fewer people seeking treatment and primarily to more drug-related deaths and the spread of hard drug use across Oregon communities.
“We’re seeing these fatalities increasing at alarming rates,” says Lily Morgan.
“There has been a 700 percent increase in overdoses and a 120 percent rise in fatalities in my neighborhood,” says Morgan.
The Oregonian Secretary of State, Shemia Fagan, said that Oregoners approved Ballot Measure 110 to “improve the lives of people and our communities.”
“When Oregon voters approved Measure 110, we did so because it was a change in policy to better the lives of individuals, communities, and we’ve yet to see that play out in the years since,” Fagan stated.
“To make matters worse,” she continued, “in many Oregon communities, the problem of addiction has gotten much worse.”
While the number of drug overdoses have risen dramatically, there has been a “dramatic” increase in deaths, according to Oregon’s behavioral health director, but much of this is due to an influx of methamphetamines containing fentanyl.
Allen claimed that if public health resources were adequately funded and supported, overdose deaths would decline as the state’s drug situation improves.
“These resources must be made available to the public, not just the harm reduction resources, but also people who can assist those at risk of overdose,” he stated.