Full defense of voter approved Measure 110 (drug law reform)

by Matt Rowe

There is a coordinated bad-faith argument being made by the Law Enforcement lobby and their paid political cronies (their talking-points are already being regurgitated by their sponsored candidates on the campaign trail) that Oregon’s surge in mass-homelessness/crime since 2020 is due to voters adopting Ballot Measure 110 in November 2020.

They do this knowing perfectly well that their claims are made in bad faith and that the true driving factors behind Oregon’s current crime-wave/public safety crisis is lax enforcement of existing laws due to lack of funding for jail beds and mental health infrastructure (particularly in economically poor rural areas such as Douglas, Coos, Curry, and Josephine Counties).

However, demonizing Ballot Measure 110 for all the ills that plague our State has provided a politically powerful lobbying group (Law Enforcement) hostile to drug-reform a convenient political scapegoat. They do this with the goal of discrediting Measure 110 to the point that the Legislature repeals the law (or significantly rewrites it) and the voters refuse to adopt any further decriminalization/legalization reforms in the future.

Our State’s homelessness/crime problems existed WELL before 2021 (when Measure 110 became law) but have since dramatically increased due to unrelated changes in state law (pushed through the legislature by Tent-City Tina Kotek) regarding “Camping” for the homeless/mentally ill and the adoption of “Bail Reform.”

Never failing to exacerbate an already bad situation, Governor Brown then chose to implement Measure 110 in such a manner that only the possession of hard narcotics was decriminalized, while refusing to spend the funds allotted for the widely popular treatment provisions of the law. The State’s reasoning for this being that they simply cannot find qualified facilities to send the money to.

Do they seriously expect Oregonians to believe that the government which blew 100 million dollars to build a website that didn’t even work can’t find a way to spend appropriated funds? The government which rushed to funnel billions of taxpayer dollars in COVID-19 aide to unqualified/unexamined businesses and non-profits now can’t (or won’t) spend the money budgeted to address one of the most significant issues impacting the lives of Oregonians today because they contracted a sudden case of fiscal restraint?

Either the State of Oregon is selling itself short in its capacity to spend large sums of taxpayer funds at breakneck pace for the first time in modern history or they are purposely tanking the implementation of the law. Their motivation for doing this? I leave that to the reader to determine. However, from having worked in and observed State/Local politics in Oregon for nearly two decades, my guess is that the latter is the case.

Something stinks in Salem and it’s not just the smell of human feces on the sidewalk!

Matt Rowe, who then served on the Coquille City Council and School Board, was the only sitting elected official in rural Oregon to endorse Ballot Measure 110 in 2020. He now resides in North Bend working as a Political, Media, and Public Policy Consultant. He can be found on Twitter @MattRoweOR.