In the midst of an election that decided state representatives, U.S. representatives and the next President of the United States, Oregonians voted on a number of ballot measures. One of which was Oregon Measure 110, which decriminalizes possession of a Schedule I-IV drug in the state of Oregon.
Schedule I-IV drugs include heroin, marijuana, Adderall and ketamine.
Additionally, the measure puts funds from the state’s marijuana tax revenue and state prison savings towards an addiction treatment and recovery program.
The measure passed with almost 59% of the vote on Nov. 3. While Measure 110 has been passed by voters in Oregon, it still needs to go through the Oregon state legislature in order to determine how the measure will be implemented, as well as the policy changes surrounding it.
Prior to Measure 110 in Oregon, drug possession was a Class A misdemeanor, which came with a penalty of up to 364 days in prison, a $6250 fine or both.
Now, it’s a Class E violation, making those convicted of personal, noncommercial drug possession subject to a $100 fine or a completed health assessment. However, the selling of Schedule I-IV drugs is still subject to a criminal penalty.
Measure 110 also established the Drug Treatment and Recovery Services Fund. The fund will give grants to government and community-run organizations that will create addiction recovery centers.
Heather Sielicki, from the White Bird Clinic, whose mission is to help individuals gain control of their lives, told The Register Guard that Measure 110 “does not legalize drugs or create new taxes. It simply puts us on a more humane path, where people get access to treatment instead of criminal punishments.”
Sami Alloy, who will be helping Vote Yes on Measure 110 implement the measure, said that, “For people suffering from addiction — to decriminalize just possessing drugs — it destigmatizes addiction and allows them to get the treatment they need, and will save lives.”
Maris Toalson, a freshman at the University of Oregon, said she voted yes on Measure 110 because “Measure 110 is a really good first step, as well as a historic one, towards decriminalizing nonviolent drug offenses in the United States.”
A nonviolent drug offense is a felony in most states, which can lead to voter disenfranchisement depending on the state. Many past nonviolent drug offenses that have led to voter disenfranchisement are for marijuana use. Marijuana is used by an average of 17 million Americans on a monthly basis, according to the ACLU.
In Oregon, those with felony convictions lose their right to vote only while in prison. Ron Williams, the community outreach coordinator for Vote Yes on Measure 110 said it will drastically reduce voting disparities and arrests of Black and Brown people.
Alloy said that “Oregon residents often don’t realize their voting rights are restored after they get out of prison,” and recounted a voter she worked with who voted for Measure 110 in his first time voting following his release from prison.
Keeping nonviolent drug offenders out of jail not only prevents them from being disenfranchised, but also it helps Oregon save money to put towards other programs. It costs $30,000 to arrest, prosecute and imprison someone for drug possession, but approximately $10,000 to treat their addiction. Small prison populations allow the state to accumulate state prison savings, which is where a portion of the funding for the treatment and recovery programs will come from.
Alloy from Vote Yes on Measure 110 expects anywhere from $98 million to $157 million a year will go towards the addiction recovery centers and grants established by the measure. Prior to Measure 110, approximately 35% of marijuana sales taxes went to law enforcement, and 40% went to schools in Oregon, according to Alloy. However, there has been a lot of excess revenue from these sales taxes. The $45 million originally predicted to come from marijuana sales taxes will continue to go to schools and law enforcement, and any further excess will now go to the grants and programs under Measure 110.