Despite dismal start, hopes remain for Oregon's drug decriminalization and treatment program

Of 16,000 people who accessed services in the first year of decriminalization, only 0.85% entered treatment, the Oregon Health Authority said.

SALEM, Ore. — Two years after Oregon residents voted to decriminalize hard drugs and dedicate hundreds of millions of dollars to treatment, few people have requested the services and the state has been slow to channel the funds.

When voters passed the state’s pioneering Drug Addiction Treatment and Recovery Act in 2020, the emphasis was on treatment as much as on decriminalizing possession of personal-use amounts of heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine and other drugs.

But Oregon still has among the highest addiction rates in the country.

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