By Taxpayers Association of Oregon
Oregon overdose rates up 700% after decriminalization of hard street drugs.
The UK Daily Mail reported this week on the results of the passage of Measure 110, that decriminalized the possession of small amounts of hard street drugs and directed state funding to rehab services. It isn’t good. “Oregon’s first-in-the-nation scheme to decriminalize drugs and encourage those caught possessing them to seek medical help has been blighted with problems, officials admitted on Thursday – as one Republican politician said there had been a 700 percent in overdoses in her district in the last year.” The report noted the details of M110, which makes possession of “personal use” amounts of hard drugs punishable by a fine of up to $100. That find can be waived if the person given the ticket calls a hotline for a “health assessment.” Of the 1,885 people who got tickets in the first year of the program, only 91 called the hotline. In addition, Oregon Health Authority officials admitted they had no idea how complex the program would be to implement. Of the $276 million they received in funding for drug treatment grants to non-profits, only $40 million had been disbursed. The Secretary of State’s office is conducting an audit of the implementation of Measure 110, and the results are troubling. They recommended:
- The Oversight and Accountability Council did not receive information about individual grantee performance and did not receive public comments from meetings, despite asking the health authority for these items.
- Measure 110 does not provide clarity around the roles and of the health authority and the council, therefore the Legislature should provide that clarity.
- The Oregon Health Authority “has not always provided adequate support” to the council and has experienced staffing issues. That has contributed to delays in funding. Therefore auditors recommend that sufficient and dedicated staff support the council and that the authority provide timely and clear responses to the council’s questions.
- The council “developed an inefficient grant evaluation process, due in part to a lack of support and guidance.” Again, more support from the health authority is recommended.
- “Insufficient grant management and monitoring pose a risk that providers will not use funding in alignment with the equity and treatment support goals” of Measure 110. Auditors recommend the health authority “develop robust grant management and monitoring processes, including ensuring sufficient data is collected to enable those processes,” and that it give the oversight council sufficient support “while developing and voting on rules for data collection and reporting.”
- Ongoing ethics and conflict of interest training was also recommended for the council.