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City of Medford calls for repeal or modification of Measure 110

A sign in downtown Medford.
Wiki Commons
A sign in downtown Medford.

On Thursday, the Medford City Council passed a resolution formally asking the Oregon legislature to repeal or modify Measure 110.

The voter-approved law passed in 2020 aimed at increasing treatment and services for drug addiction. It also decriminalized small amounts of illicit drugs for personal use. The council voted six to two in favor of the resolution.

Councilor Kevin Stine voted no. Though he said he does not support Measure 110, he questioned how much it was to blame for rising overdoses, which are occurring well beyond Oregon.

“I believe, in my opinion, there is a massive rush to try to pin it on something. And in Oregon, we say ‘110 is the problem. If we get rid of it, then everything is going to be fine.’ And that’s just not the case,” Stine said.

Councilor Chad Miller voted in favor of the resolution. As a Jackson County Sheriff Deputy, he said the prevalence of illicit drugs is overwhelming and overdoses have become a regular occurance during his job.

“It is spiking to a level in the last three months where I personally have done CPR first aid and saved three individuals during my shift. And on my days off, I come back to ODs constantly,” he said.

“Do I think Measure 110 alone is to blame? Maybe not entirely, but it is definitely a system used to make it more accessible,” Miller said.

With the vote, Medford joins a movement of cities and counties in the state pushing to repeal the measure. In the last month, the Jackson County and Coos County Boards of Commissioners called for the repeal of Measure 110. On Wednesday, Portland City Council banned the use of hard drugs on public property – though state law would need to change in order to make that possible. The Clackamas County Board of Commissioners will also be asking voters next spring if the measure should be repealed, according to the Oregonian.

“It will probably be our top legislative priority for the short session, and we will, with other cities and counties that are passing similar resolutions, try to effect change,” said Medford City Manager Brian Sjothun during Thursday’s meeting.

The Medford City Council’s resolution states that Measure 110 has not reduced drug overdose deaths in the state. Instead, it cites data showing a significant increase in overdose deaths since the measure’s passage, and says an increase in drug activity has negatively impacted “community livability” throughout the state.

“It has become dramatically apparent that Measure 110 has not delivered as it was proposed to the voters and is missing the mark when it comes to addressing addiction,” said Medford Mayor Randy Sparacino in a press release. “I am pleased to see that our council and city leadership are moving forward with a resolution seeking a repeal of Measure 110 by our state legislators and if that isn’t possible, significant and necessary changes to the measure.”

If a repeal is not viable, the proposed modifications include restoring misdemeanor status for the possession of methamphetamine, heroine and similar drugs, contingent on the availability of drug courts. It also suggests incentivizing the use of existing health resources like the substance use assessment hotline.

The resolution follows a series of town hall meetings in Medford, where the impact of Measure 110 on the Southern Oregon city was a regular point of concern from residents. An August 2023 poll by Emerson College Polling shows that 56% of Oregon voters believe the measure should be repealed completely, and 64% believe parts should be repealed.

JPR News Director Erik Neumann contributed to this story.

Ella Hutcherson was a 2023 Charles Snowden Program for Excellence in Journalism Intern at JPR after she graduated from the University of Oregon. She grew up in Coos Bay, Oregon and now produces freelance stories for JPR. Previously, Ella worked as education reporter for the Eugene Weekly and she was the managing editor of the UO student-run Ethos Magazine.