Opinion & Editorial

Fixing Measure 110’s failures: Recriminalization will empower people  to seek treatment


The 2021 Senate Bill 755-C codified and amended Ballot Measure 110, which decriminalized most unlawful possession of a controlled substance (PCS) offenses. 58.5% voters across the state voted in favor of the ballot measure, including 60.7% of voters in Lane County. … Measure 110 reduced the penalties for most PCS offenses from a felony or misdemeanor to a new Class E violation, punishable with a $100 maximum fine. Effective Feb. 1, 2021, most PCS offenses are punishable only by a fine – no jail, supervision, or other criminal penalties can be imposed.

Conversations regarding Measure 110’s (M110) failure and the drug addiction crisis have been ongoing  for well over a year and really began in earnest during January Legislative Days. The Joint Committee on  Addiction and Community Safety Response (JASCR) held multiple public meetings beginning in October  2023 to hear testimony and develop policy recommendations and the corresponding budget request. 

When the short session began on Feb. 5,  the discussions continued and intensified as various policy options were vetted. 

I sit on both the House Behavioral Health/Health Care & Judiciary committees and am involved in the policy discussions. Additionally, the Speaker appointed me to the JASCR budget workgroup to work on developing budget options to submit to the Joint Ways and Means Committee,  which were due Feb. 7. 

Fixing M110’s implementation failures so that people struggling with addiction have access to treatment will take a significant amount of energy and a practical approach informed by the data we have gathered  since implementation. 

A piece of data that struck me most is that on average 200 citations are issued statewide each month, with about five people calling the number to seek treatment. 

That’s 2.5%, meaning that citations don’t work for 97.5% of the people. 

This is a telling statistic – and one  which makes intuitive sense. People suffering from addiction, particularly those living on the streets, are focused on the very basics – finding a spot to sleep, finding something to eat, and satisfying their  addiction. We have all tried to change a habit before – it is even harder for long time addicts whose  brains have been re-wired. 

They need our help. We need to offer an opportunity to reset, which is why I  strongly support re-criminalizing possession to an A misdemeanor. Recriminalization allows for an  intervention to empower people to make the decision to seek treatment, not from a place of addiction, but rather from a place of sobriety and stability. Hopefully then they will accept treatment, not only for  their addiction, but also any co-occurring mental health issues they may be dealing with. 

Being arrested for possession should not be an anvil around someone’s neck, preventing them from  fulfilling their potential and living a meaningful life. Measures to mitigate an arrest through methods like  automatic expungements should absolutely be included. People battling addiction should not be  outcasts – they need to be offered an opportunity to enter treatment and to pursue recovery.  

The significance of fixing M110 can’t be overstated. The effects are felt by us all, some more than others, unfortunately. It’s time for the legislature to step up, which includes acknowledging and understanding  human nature and motivations. 

This approach is compassionate. This approach respects people.  Providing an opportunity for people to enter treatment while simultaneously improving community  safety are solutions I fully support. 

I look forward to representing our district during this session. Please  do not hesitate to reach out to my office any time with your thoughts and concerns. 

Charlie Conrad is a member of the Oregon House of Representatives, representing District 12, Eastern Lane County.  He assumed office in January 2023. His current term ends in January 2025.  Contact him at [email protected] and 503-968-1412. 



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