Pioneering Oregon Drug Law Off to a Rocky Start

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Oregon law enforcement agencies are failing to issue violations akin to traffic tickets to drug-users, a key component of the recently passed Measure 110, which decided low-level drug possession in the state should no longer be a crime and that addiction should be treated as public health issue, reports And even when police do hand out the tickets, that can be dismissed if users call a hotline that can help them access treatment, they’re often ignored.

Of 978 cases that had come before circuit court judges as of Oct. 1, 2021 more than three-fifths of defendants failed to show up for their scheduled court appearance. Similar stats have emerged in municipal courts that have also handled the new violations. More troubling for Measure 110′s intentions, phones are sitting quiet at the special hotline designed to steer drug users toward professional treatment that might help them beat an addiction. The line has received, on average, fewer than two calls a week from people who’ve received tickets. According to the circuit courts, defendants have leveraged a phone call to have their case dismissed just seven times — less than one tenth of one percent of cases that had made it before judges as of Oct. 1. The early stats cast some doubt about whether the tickets created under the measure can play a meaningful part of the solution, or are doomed to fail.

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