Two versions of an initiative to recriminalize drugs in Oregon were filed with the secretary of state on Sept. 19 by the Coalition to Fix and Improve Ballot Measure 110, the campaign behind the initiative.
In 2020, Oregon voters decriminalized personal non-commercial drug possession offenses with the approval of Measure 110. It received 58.5% of the vote. Measure 110 reclassified possession of a controlled substance in Schedule I-IV, such as heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamines, from a Class A misdemeanor to a Class E violation resulting in a $100 fine or a completed health assessment. The ballot initiative also established the Drug Treatment and Recovery Services Fund governed by the Oregon Health Authority. The fund was designed to give grants to government or community-run organizations to create addiction recovery centers.
The proposed 2024 initiative would make it a misdemeanor to possess or use hard drugs in public and mandate treatment for drug-dependent persons charged with low-level crimes. The second version of the initiative also proposes automatic expungement of misdemeanor possession convictions following addiction treatment and increasing penalties for repeat dealers. The initiative would also transfer oversight of the Drug Treatment and Recovery Services Fund from the Oregon Health Authority to the Alcohol and Drug Policy Commission.
In Oregon, the number of signatures required to qualify an initiated state statute for the ballot is equal to 120,413—6% of the votes cast for governor in the most recent gubernatorial election. The signature deadline is July 5, 2024.
The initiative was filed by Nate Sickler, Jerrod Murray, and Juanita Swartwood. The Coalition to Fix and Improve Ballot Measure 110 has received campaign contributions from Columbia Sportswear CEO Tim Boyle ($300,000) and Nike founder Phil Knight ($200,000) according to Oregon Public Broadcasting.
Max Williams, a former Republican state legislator, is leading the coalition. Williams said, “We strongly support the parts of Measure 110 that are putting resources into moving people into treatment and recovery. That’s why this isn’t a repeal. But what we’re trying to do is actually make 110 better and really fulfill its promise, which is more people into more treatment quickly.”
Drug Policy Alliance, which supported the passage of Measure 110, tweeted, “Two initiative petitions aimed at undoing Oregon’s Measure 110 were filed. The complicated, costly, & ineffective ballot measures announced today are not a solution but, instead, a false promise of change & a return to the failed drug war.”
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