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Jackson County commissioners support repeal of Ballot Measure 110

 A box of Narcan, an-opioid reversing drug, before it was distributed at a day shelter in Ontario, Ore., on Oct. 13, 2022.
Kyle Green
The Lund Report / AP
A box of Narcan, an-opioid reversing drug, before it was distributed at a day shelter in Ontario, Ore., on Oct. 13, 2022.

On Wednesday, the Jackson County Board of Commissioners unanimously called for the repeal of Ballot Measure 110.

Its goals included expanding access to harm reduction services by establishing Behavioral Health Resource Networks throughout the state, with comprehensive treatment and support. It also decriminalized small amounts of illicit drugs for personal use.

But Jackson County commissioners said in their order on Wednesday that the measure has led to "an increase in overdose deaths, criminal activity, public nuisance, and a diminished quality of life for the citizens of Oregon."

"It has resulted in about a doubling in overdose deaths. It’s resulted in higher drug use. It’s resulted in Oregon being basically a destination for a lot of hard drug users to come and use without being hassled," Commissioner Rick Dyer said.

The commissioners said the measure's enforcement strategy of ticketing and fining hard drug users has been ineffectual and it has actually made it more likely that people will use substances.

Their order will be sent to the state legislature and municipalities to indicate their support for the repeal.

Chair Colleen Roberts said the measure’s impacts are widespread.

"I think it’s been our liveability in our communities. We’ve heard from the public, we’ve heard from businesses about their effects. While we were making this proclamation, we had data just in our county of 10 drug overdoses in five days," she said.

The order also states that members of law enforcement and the criminal justice system say that the measure "has made it more difficult to motivate drug users to enter treatment."

Opioid use has been a growing issue in the region for years, especially with the increased use of the synthetic opioid fentanyl. According to the commissioners' order, overdose deaths in Oregon have jumped from 585 in 2020 to 1,161 in 2022.

Meanwhile, a study published in April by Portland-based research firm DHM Research shows about two thirds of Oregon voters support bringing back criminal penalties for drug possession, and a majority of Oregon voters think Measure 110 has been bad for the state.
Copyright 2023 Jefferson Public Radio.

Jane Vaughan