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Bill to end Measure 110’s drug decriminalization passes Oregon House, heads to Senate

KTVZ file

(Update: Adding more reaction; Rep. Levy votes yes, notes funding for Stabilization Center, BestCare)

By Jamie Parfitt, KGW Staff

PORTLAND, Ore. (KGW/KTVZ) — The Oregon House of Representatives approved a bill Thursday in a 51-7 vote that will effectively end drug decriminalization in the state as established by 2020's voter-approved Measure 110. The bill now moves on to the state Senate, KGW reports.

Since well before the 2024 legislative session began, a bipartisan and bicameral group of lawmakers has been working on legislation meant to address Oregon's drug crisis and inadequate treatment infrastructure, both strained to the brink by the influx of powerful drugs like fentanyl. With that crisis continuing unabated, policymakers decided that Measure 110 as approved by voters was failing to meet the needs of the moment.

The result, after considerable public testimony and debate, was House Bill 4002, which would dismantle the decriminalization of simple drug possession that Measure 110 began and build something new in its place — a system that could look entirely different between Oregon counties.

Though Democrats on the special drug policy committee led the charge on drafting the HB 4002, Republicans and critics of Measure 110 were among the first to crow about its passage and the compromises made along the way.

"We worked closely with law enforcement to force Democrats to come to the table and give our public safety officers the tools they need to hold people accountable," said House Republican Leader Jeff Helfrich, a retired Portland police sergeant, in a statement. "More must be done to root out corruption, fully fund treatment instead of activism, and further strengthen criminal justice accountability, but we’ve gotten this far because Republicans stood firm on recriminalization.”

The Coalition to Fix and Improve Ballot Measure 110, a well-heeled political group that threatened to gather signatures on its own drug policy initiative if lawmakers didn't take action first, said that it would stand down if HB 4002 and its companion legislation are signed into law.

RELATED: Drug decriminalization would go up in smoke under proposed Measure 110 'fix,' but that's not all

"A law that achieves 85% of what we proposed now is well worth the lives and communities that will be saved sooner rather than waiting for the passage and implementation of a ballot measure over a year from now," the group said in a statement.

House Democrats celebrated the bill as a step toward addressing Oregon's drug and addiction crisis, one that supplies law enforcement with tools they've been missing for the last few years.

“We have incredible people doing incredible things in our communities in all parts of our state,” said Rep. Jason Kropf (D-Bend), who co-chaired the committee. “With this bill and connected investments, we’re supporting them and helping to significantly expand their ongoing work, to move us into the next phase of our long-term commitment to establishing a sustainable treatment infrastructure that can efficiently get people from crisis to stability.”

But a coalition that has opposed the legislature's proposals to overhaul Measure 110, Oregonians for Safety & Recovery, referred to the bill's passage as a grave error by lawmakers.

"They voted for a bill that will increase racial disparities in Oregon and disparities between counties, allow police and prosecutors to decide who gets treatment and who gets jail, convict thousands more people for personal possession, and overwhelm the court system, while failing to address the state’s addiction crisis," the coalition said in a statement. "HB 4002 was drafted behind closed doors, leaving out the input of Black and brown people most affected by increased police power and without being informed by the input of addiction specialists or current science on addiction."

Recriminalizing drug possession

The bill approved by lawmakers in the Oregon House on Thursday makes simple drug possession a new type of crime, a "drug enforcement misdemeanor." Someone convicted of this crime would initially get probation for a maximum of 18 months instead of serving jail time. If the person then violated their probation, they could be sanctioned with a jail sentence up to 30 days. For a more serious violation, the court could revoke probation and hand the person a six-month jail sentence.

Even after getting sent to jail on the probation violation or revocation, someone convicted of possession could secure early release to attend either inpatient or outpatient drug treatment. Violating the terms of that release would likely result in a return to jail for the remainder of the original six-month jail sentence.

But a significant piece of the bill — one that's entirely optional for county prosecutors and law enforcement agencies to adopt — would see drug possession dealt with outside of the court system. Instead of subjecting someone in possession of drugs to arrest or prosecution, a "deflection program" would see law enforcement refer the person to a behavioral health program, one offering "community-based pathways to treatment, recovery support services, housing, case management or other services."

So far, 23 of Oregon's 36 counties have expressed interest in creating a deflection program.

RELATED: Measure 110 under a microscope as Oregon lawmakers work to remake state drug policies

Advocates for criminal justice reform who are critical of HB 4002 argue that deflection programs will be too little, too late for many Oregonians. While criminal penalties for simple drug possession would return on Sept. 1 of this year if the bill is signed into law, it will be 18 months before state officials establish best practices for deflection programs. The bill itself is vague about what these programs should look like.

At least some counties will opt against creating a deflection program entirely, meaning these drug possession misdemeanors will again be handled by cops and courts, albeit under HB 4002's new procedures.

While drug recriminalization makes up the core of HB 4002, there are a number of other provisions in the lengthy bill. It would also change state law in response to court decisions that law enforcement officials claim have made it more difficult to prove that someone is dealing drugs, and increase jail sentences for people who sell drugs near parks, treatment centers and homeless shelters.

The bill includes a number of other provisions to either provide funding or study gaps in access to treatment, especially for Oregon youth. It also attempts to increase access to medication that can treat opioid use disorders, and expands welfare holds for mental health or intoxication from 48 to 72 hours.

A companion bill, House Bill 5204, would provide $211 million for "shovel-ready" projects meant to expand the behavioral health workforce and access to treatment, education and prevention programs, drug courts, the deflection programs and public defenders. It also passed the House with overwhelming support Thursday.

The remains of Measure 110

While HB 4002 does roll back drug decriminalization, it does not represent a full repeal of Measure 110. The other major pillar of the measure, using Oregon's cannabis tax funds to support drug treatment and outreach organizations, remains functionally intact.

While those funds were slow to roll out as the fledgling Measure 110 program got on its feet, it's unquestionably made strides since 2022 in standing up or expanding available resources for addiction recovery services throughout the state. It's now distributed at least $265 million in grants throughout Oregon.

AUDIT: Oregon's Measure 110 spending has been slow to ramp up after delayed rollout

In the bill that Republican lawmakers championed, the Measure 110 funding model would have been completely dismantled and rebuilt outside of the Oregon Health Authority. Democrats decided to leave this aspect of the law alone.

However, HB 4002 also conspicuously keeps around one aspect of the treatment side of Measure 110 that has thus far been particularly unproductive. Under the original law, the Oregon Health Authority was required to set up a telephone hotline for people seeking help with addiction. Calling that number was supposed to be an option for drug users who were handed a Class E violation for drug possession to avoid a $100 fine.

Even with those Class E violations as a motivator, call volume for the Measure 110 helpline has been extremely low. From its creation up to early December 2023, the line had only received about 100 calls from people who'd received citations, The Oregonian reported last week.

An audit examining the early days of Oregon's Measure 110 rollout estimated that in its first year, the helpline cost more than $7,000 per call.

Beginning Dec. 7, the Oregon Health Authority hired a new company to operate the helpline, with The Oregonian noting that it cost the state $871,000 for just the first three months of an 18-month contract, and will cost almost $130,000 a month after that.

HB 4002 does not touch the Measure 110 helpline, even though it does away with the Class E violations for drug possession that were supposed to drive calls toward it.

Lines for Life, the original contractor for the Measure 110 helpline, operates an Alcohol and Drug Helpline in Oregon that far predates the Measure 110 line. It also receives significantly more calls.


Rep. Emerson Levy Votes Yes on Measure 110 Reform & Commends Deschutes County on Commitment to Mental Health and Addiction Services 

Deschutes County Stabilization Center granted $1.5 million and BestCare $525,000 to expand behavioral health treatment capacity in Central Oregon. 

SALEM, Ore. - Today, HB 4002 passed on the House Floor 51-7. Representative Emerson Levy proudly voted yes on the treatment-first plan brought forward by the Joint Committee on Addiction and Community Safety. 

“The voters were clear when they passed Measure 110: getting people into recovery is the top priority. But, what we’ve experienced since the implementation of Measure 110 is unacceptable,” said Rep. Emerson Levy (D-Central Oregon). “HB 4002 is a comprehensive plan to address our state's drug and addiction problem and gives our law enforcement the tools they need to confiscate hard drugs and get people off the street and into recovery.” 

“Deschutes County has great reason to be proud of their statewide model of deflection services through the Deschutes County Stabilization Center. We have been doing this work for a long time, and we are set up and ready to use these dollars” says Levy.

The Deschutes County Stabilization Center (DCSC)  is a collaborative project between the Deschutes County Sheriff's Office and Deschutes County Health Services and offers the community a 24/7 crisis stabilization center. Holly Harris, the DCSC Behavioral Health Director, shared information about their services to the Joint Committee on Addiction and Community Safety during an informational hearing in Salem. 

“For about 9 years we have offered a jail diversion program that is embedded within our stabilization center,” said Harris. “It is designed to keep individuals who are struggling with substance abuse disorders and mental health conditions out of the criminal justice system. We also offer a place for law enforcement to voluntarily bring us people instead of the emergency department or jail. We have a very robust partnership with our law enforcement agencies, and we have become reliant upon each other to do this work well. About 20% of the people we serve are already diverted from the criminal justice system. We also have a really wonderful relationship with our DAs office. Through our aid and assist work, we have tackled these issues together,”

Deschutes County District Attorney Steve Gunnels affirmed a dedication to fulfilling the obligations outlined in the bill when it was before the Joint Committee. After learning about its passage today, DA Gunnels said: “Central Oregonians expect their government to work for them and the first duty of government is public safety. This bill improves public safety by providing a real path to treatment for drug users and real accountability if that opportunity is not pursued. HB 4002 is the result of the excellent working relationships and communication between our legislators and our public health and public safety officials. Deschutes County will be a safer, more healthy place to live because of that collaboration.”

Through HB 5204, the budget companion bill to HB 4002 which also passed on the House Floor today, the Deschutes County Stabilization Center was granted $1.5 million to expand services. Through the same bill, BestCare, the largest substance abuse disorder treatment provider in central Oregon was awarded $525,000 to expand detox capacity in Central Oregon. 

Rick Treleaven, the CEO at BestCare, offered this context when he appeared before the Joint Committee on Addiction and Community Safety: “Our belief is that the deflection services that you are envisioning will really fit into our system of care that exists, and we’ll build upon it. BestCare already provides the full range of treatment services: from outreach, harm reduction, rapid access to MAT, intensive outpatient detox, residential, the whole system is there. We have a long-established collaboration with Deschutes County. We don’t give up on people.”

HB 4002 allows for treatment instead of jail time, waives all fees and fines, and provides for early and automatic expungement. 

Bend Chief of Police, Mike Krantz, is also supportive of the bill: “HB 4002 provides law enforcement with essential tools necessary for us to fulfill our commitment to community safety. Concurrently, it fortifies collaboration between law enforcement and Deschutes County Health Services. The robust partnership among the Deschutes County Stabilization Center, Community Crisis Response Teams, and local law enforcement is pivotal in shaping the envisioned deflection program for the future of Deschutes County.” says Krantz. 


Rep. Reschke Votes To End Ballot Measure 110s

No-Penalty Drugs in Oregon

Salem, Ore. – Representative E. Werner Reschke voted YES today on HB 4002, to end the era of drug decriminalization in Oregon. 

“Oregon is no longer open for business to Drug Dealers and Drug Cartels. HB 4002 makes it a crime to possess or sell heroin, cocaine, fentanyl or meth. The bill creates an unclassified misdemeanor for sale or possession and up to 180 days in jail,” said Representative Reschke.

“Every day Ballot Measure 110 remains in place, more Oregonians become addicted and die. The evidence is clearly seen by the explosion of homelessness and despair throughout the state. In January 2023, I introduced HB 2603 to repeal Ballot Measure 110. In October, I demanded the Legislature and Governor act in order to repeal Measure 110. Today I fulfilled that promise to the people of Deschutes and Klamath counties by ending the radical and failed experiment of no-penalty drugs.”

“HB 4002 will give back the tools that law enforcement and district attorneys need to begin making our streets and neighborhoods safe again. It also provides a glide path for those addicted to find treatment and begin recovery. Treatment in lieu of prison can be made available when treatment beds are available.”

“Nearly four years of Measure 110’s failed experiment of drug decriminalization won’t be fixed overnight.  However, HB 4002 is certainly a step in the right direction.”

“I am committed to watching how HB 4002 discourages and prevents illicit drug use in Oregon. I will push the legislature to consider stricter penalties and more effective treatment options if the data suggests HB 4002 wasn’t enough of a deterrent to illicit drug use,” said Representative Reschke.

A few highlights from the companion appropriation bill, HB 5204, the Legislature will direct:

  • $1,500,000 to Deschutes County Community Mental Health Program to support the Deschutes County Stabilization Center.
  • $2,400,000 to Klamath Basin Behavioral Health to support the construction of a residential treatment facility with a crisis stabilization center.
  • $2,500,000 to Transformations Wellness Center for the construction of a residential, co-occurring, substance use disorder treatment facility with detox beds.
  • $666,667 to Oregon Tech for education and training to expand the behavioral health workforce in Oregon.
  • $2,700,000 to the Department of Education Learning and Care for Relief Nurseries to provide therapeutic and family support services.
  • $16,000,000 to Community Corrections throughout the state


From the Office of the House Speaker:

Speaker Priority Bill to Right-Size Treatment Courts Passes House Unanimously

Evidence-based specialty courts play key role in addressing the addiction crisis long-term, providing wrap-around services and reducing recidivism

SALEM, Ore. – Today, the House passed House Bill 4001 unanimously to answer key questions to ensure our work to support these programs leads to our intended outcome: giving communities the tools they need to maintain and grow their drug treatment and other specialty courts so they can keep helping families and individuals take charge of their lives again.

House Bill 4001 now heads to the Senate.

“We are strengthening and expanding efficient connections to treatment as a key part of investing in Oregon's future,” said Speaker Dan Rayfield (D-Corvallis). “Through this legislation, we can stabilize the funding for treatment courts and ensure that we are providing high functioning, effective diversion opportunities for the people who will benefit most from them.”

House Bill 5204, the budget companion bill to House Bill 4002 and a key component of the Oregon Drug Intervention Plan, also includes $9.7 million in CJC grants to grow these programs and stand up new ones. More details on House Bill 5204 can be found here.

Each specialty court program relies on a team of experts including: judges, prosecuting and defense attorneys, behavioral health providers, court coordinators, case managers, probation and social service providers such as child welfare and housing. The team must function well at a programmatic level as well as for each individual participant. This can lead to distinct, localized challenges, making it a difficult problem to address with a statewide solution. HB 4001 sets up a process to build a model that best meets the needs of communities across the state.

In the fall of 2023, Speaker Rayfield visited the Multnomah County STEP court. Read more about the visit here.

Our coalition applauds the bipartisan passage of HB 4002 and roll back of Measure 110 by the Oregon House. We acknowledge the leadership of both Democrats and Republicans, local law enforcement agencies, district attorneys, treatment providers, cities, counties, and business leaders in working together to address Oregon's addiction crisis.

This legislation is just the first step to save lives, rescue communities and restore Oregon's national reputation tattered by drug decriminalization. Our ballot initiatives amplified the voices of the overwhelming majority of Oregonians who, in their life experience, observation and common sense know that Measure 110 has done far more harm than good to the state we all love. We are grateful to the thousands of people who made their voices heard in Salem.

If the Senate passes and the Governor signs HB 4002 and the corresponding financial package in HB 5204, we will withdraw the ballot initiatives. A law that achieves 85% of what we proposed now is well worth the lives and communities that will be saved sooner rather than waiting for the passage and implementation of a ballot measure over a year from now.

A new bipartisan state law is a new beginning.

Now, local elected officials, law enforcement, public health providers and state officials have the awesome responsibility to implement new policies wisely and spend taxpayer funds effectively to get more people into more treatment more quickly. Oregonians also want safety and order restored on their streets and in their neighborhoods. Our coalition will be watching - encouraging quick action and accountability.

The significance of bipartisan action to fix and improve Measure 110 is worth acknowledging and replicating. No party has a monopoly on good ideas or the truth. No single national or state interest group should dictate unbalanced policy. Oregon can achieve better public policies and be a better place for everyone when the common good is more often put front and center in our politics and by all elected officials.


Statements from coalition members of Oregonians for Safety and Recovery on passage of HB 4002 in the Oregon House

SALEM, Ore. — Today, the Oregon House of Representatives made an error that will result in lifelong harm to countless Oregonians. They voted for a bill that will increase racial disparities in Oregon and disparities between counties, allow police and prosecutors to decide who gets treatment and who gets jail, convict thousands more people for personal possession, and overwhelm the court system, while failing to address the state’s addiction crisis. HB 4002 was drafted behind closed doors, leaving out the input of Black and brown people most affected by increased police power and without being informed by the input of addiction specialists or current science on addiction. 

We would like to thank Representatives Chaichi, Nelson, Pham and Gamba, who stood with Black and brown Oregonians, people struggling with substance use, and our communities who were looking for real solutions from the 2024 legislature to the addiction and housing crisis in our communities. 

Here are quotes from Oregonians for Safety and Recovery coalition partners: 

Jennifer Parrish Taylor, Director of Advocacy and Public Policy, Urban League of Portland: 

“Today, HB 4002 is being touted as a compromise, but we ask at the cost to whom? It is an unacceptable compromise when we know that there will be disparate impacts to Oregonians of color. It is not enough to monitor the system when we know it is a system that has bias built into it. I fear that we will be back next year, hearing those stories of harm, figuring out how to make our communities whole.” 

Gloria Ochoa-Sandoval, Policy Director, Unite Oregon: 

“Unite Oregon, representing Black, Indigenous, People of Color, immigrants, rural communities, and those experiencing poverty, strongly oppose HB 4002. This legislation exacerbates the challenges faced by those grappling with addiction, particularly impacting Black and brown Oregonians and those experiencing homelessness. By prioritizing punitive measures over equitable access to treatment, HB 4002 perpetuates systemic injustice. It joins a regrettable list of bills prioritizing political interests over the well-being of Oregon's most vulnerable populations. We will remain steadfast in advocating for a paradigm shift towards healing and empowerment and commend the legislators who opposed HB 4002. Their courage in standing for justice does not go unnoticed.” 

ShaToyia Bentley, Executive Director, The Ebony Collective Coalition: 

“HB 4002 will be in the list of bills that Oregon has passed that have sacrificed low-income, unprotected and underrepresented Oregonians for personal political interest. We stand and will continue to stand with folks who believe that treatment, healing and uplifting is required. Not an ongoing cycle of punishment without redemption. Lawmakers sided with ‘what had to be done’ instead of what was morally right. We thank the lawmakers who voted ‘no’ on HB 4002. Your courage doesn’t go unnoticed. Black families will continue to fight for our safety because it is our duty to advocate for what is right and not what is easy.” 

Jessica Maravilla, Policy Director, ACLU of Oregon: 

“Together, ACLU of Oregon’s more than 27,000 members imagined an Oregon filled with healing and thriving communities, not more jails and prisons. Thousands of us took action and engaged in our democracy — calling and emailing lawmakers and submitting testimony for hearings. We asked for real solutions including more treatment, housing, prevention programs, community revitalization efforts, and non-police mobile crisis response teams. The ACLU of Oregon community has deep gratitude for the lawmakers who voted 'no' to the false and harmful promises of criminalization in HB 4002.” 

Tera Hurst, Executive Director, Health Justice Recovery Alliance: 

“The public health approach of expanding treatment without punishment was the right approach, but HB 4002 doubles down on the same mistakes the state made in implementing Measure 110. Unfortunately, it will be people struggling with addiction — especially those living outside and Black and brown Oregonians — who are most vulnerable to arrest and who will pay the biggest price. And our communities will be no safer for it.” 

Andy Ko, Executive Director, Partnership for Safety and Justice: 

“HB 4002 is a profoundly flawed bill that does not contain the solutions Oregon needs. Now, instead of focusing all our efforts on fighting for overdose prevention, treatment, and crisis outreach, we must also work to lessen the damage that HB 4002 will cause. The impact of disparate enforcement on communities of color also means we will need to press both for racial data reporting and greater expansion of funding for culturally specific treatment programs.” 


About Oregonians for Safety and Recovery:

Oregonians for Safety and Recovery (OSR) coalition members include ACLU, ACLU of Oregon, Drug Policy Alliance, Ebony Collective Coalition, Health Justice Recovery Alliance, Imagine Black, Partnership for Safety and Justice, Unite Oregon and Urban League of Portland. These organizations work collaboratively to defend Measure 110 and decriminalization while advocating for real solutions, including increased investment and accessibility to drug treatment, detox, and housing services to meet the full needs of people experiencing addiction.


News release from the Oregon BIPOC Caucus:

House of Representatives Addressed Oregon’s Addiction Crisis

We are committed to closely monitoring the rollout of this bill, particularly with concerns to racial disparities.

SALEM, Ore. - Today, the Oregon House of Representatives passed HB 4002 which addresses the substance abuse and addiction crisis through the creation of an unclassified misdemeanor to direct those suffering from addiction to treatment. In response to this vote, the Oregon Legislative BIPOC Caucus released the following statement: 

“We begin by acknowledging the uncertainties felt by Black, Latine, and Native communities across the state as we explore how to address Oregon’s addiction crisis. These concerns are founded on decades of lived experience with racial profiling and over-policing.  

“We have historically underinvested in culturally specific behavioral health and recovery services. Given the disproportionate impact on communities of color from criminalization, we need to overinvest in the coming years to meaningfully address the addiction crisis. 

“Moving forward, we are committed to closely monitoring the rollout of this bill, particularly with concerns to racial disparities. Given the strong evidence of racial bias in policing and drug enforcement, we are committed to taking appropriate actions if these projections come true.”

HB 4002 mandates the Oregon Criminal Justice Commission (CJC) to track interactions with law enforcement and opportunities for treatment in order to measure the racial impacts of this legislation. Already, the CJC predicted there will be a racial disparity for Black, Latine, and Native Oregonians in conviction and sentencing rates under HB 4002.

HB 4002 passed 51-7 out of the House and is on its way to the Senate floor. 

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