HomeOregon NewsOregon has continued to struggle with a drug use epidemic, especially fentanyl,...

Oregon has continued to struggle with a drug use epidemic, especially fentanyl, despite passing the controversial Measure 110

Oregon – The Oregon Secretary of State recently examined Measure 110, a law enacted in 2020 that aimed to remove penalties for having small drug amounts and boost funds for treating substance abuse.

The examination by the Oregon Audits Division highlighted both advancements and hurdles in changing the state’s approach to substance abuse treatment.

After the adoption of the controversial Measure 110, Oregon has continued to face a drug crisis, partly driven by a significant increase in fentanyl usage. For instance, over 3 million fentanyl pills were seized in Oregon and Idaho’s major drug areas in 2022, a huge jump from just 690 pills in 2018.

The study indicates that since November 2020, when Measure 110 was passed, Oregon has allocated about $261 million in grants for drug treatment and recovery. This funding is sourced from taxes on cannabis.

The report also noted that the organizations receiving these grants, known as behavioral health resource networks, have been slow in starting new services, mainly due to challenges in hiring staff.

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In several Oregon counties, no services were provided under Measure 110 for three months last spring. In the same timeframe, five other counties helped fewer than 15 people, the auditors found.

The report also pointed out that $1.7 million was spent on a 24-hour hotline designed to assist with addiction. However, this hotline only received about one call per day, totaling 577 calls from February 2021 to November. This means it cost roughly $7,000 for each call.

The audit questions Measure 110’s success, leading Audits Director Kip Memmott to comment that despite some progress, there’s still a lot to be done.

Oregon Secretary of State LaVonne Griffin-Valade stated the audit’s findings will aid the Oregon Health Authority in better managing Measure 110’s treatment aspects. She urged state leaders and the OHA to heed the auditor’s suggestions.

“There has been a lot of interest around Measure 110, and I have no doubt that many will want to look to this audit as a measuring stick for the law. That would be a mistake, as this report is narrowly focused on answering questions about the OHA’s grant making program. Within that scope, it’s a valuable tool.”

A key finding from the report is the significant shortfall in responsibility and data collection. The auditors openly doubted if the Oregon Health Authority could collect sufficient data to show the effectiveness of Measure 110 by the end of 2025, the deadline for the upcoming audit.

Orion Hargrove

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