Oregon drug decriminalization floods treatment funding, but now must follow suit

Funding for drug treatment centers in Oregon, funded by Oregon’s pioneering drug decriminalization policy, hit 250 million as of Friday as officials ask to monitor more closely where funds go. exceeded a million dollars.

This need for oversight comes after state officials Wednesday terminated a $1.5 million grant deal with a drug recovery nonprofit in Klamath Falls, failing to submit completed spending and data reports, and spending more than double the amount authorized. Proven by being accused of buying a building.

That $1.5 million is just a drop in a huge bucket, with $264.6 million allocated to recovery centers so far, but state officials have a huge responsibility to ensure that money does its job. There is Highest addiction rate in the country.

Oregon’s drug decriminalization got off to a rocky start After voters approved it on the 2020 ballot measure. Very few people are ticketed for drug possession and access to treatment services, and funding for treatment providers is underdeveloped.

But as of Friday, $184 million has been allocated to the state’s Behavioral Health Resource Network (BHRN), which has a population of 4.2 million.

To keep things running smoothly, the Measure 110 Oversight and Accountability Council, which oversees addiction and recovery centers and the funding that supports them, needs more staff, officials said. And the Oregon Department of Health needs more clout to address bureaucratic and administrative barriers to oversight.

But the bill that offers it all is stuck in the Senate, along with more than 100 other bills, because of Republican senator strikes. The movement began on May 3 in an attempt to block Democratic efforts on abortion rights, transgender care and gun safety.

“This bill proposal rests on fundamental principles essential to the success of Major 110,” said Monta Knudson, CEO of Portland-based addiction recovery group Bridges to Change. ‘ he told lawmakers.

The Republican exit casts doubt on the bill’s passage despite strong bipartisan support as it passed through the House.

Oregon’s 2020 ballot measure became the first US state to decriminalize hard drugs. It reframed the “war on drugs” into therapy, not incarceration. Anyone caught falling for a user’s amount can call a hotline for help or be fined up to $100. Tax revenues from Oregon’s legal cannabis industry fund treatment, as well as needle replacement and drug overdose harm reduction.

But with so much money involved, there are plenty of opportunities for abuse.

The Measure 110 Oversight and Accountability Council on Wednesday resolved to terminate a $1.55 million grant agreement with a Klamath Falls provider for failing to submit completed spending and data reports.

City Councilman Hubert Matthews Jr. said at the conference, “I have absolutely no confidence that this grant recipient will proceed with the fundraising because we’ve already received a lot of criticism about Measure 110.” . Grant recipients who can follow the instructions for doing this work. ”

But Matthews and another city council member expressed surprise that state officials didn’t visit Red Is the Road to Wellness and other BHRNs (pronounced “burn”) in person.

“It’s kind of unbelievable,” Matthews said. “I think we should be able to visit some of these BHRNs and see what they are doing physically. I think you need a process.”

Health officials say Red Is the Road to Wellness has already provided more than $1 million of its allotment. Health officials can recoup the money if they determine that it was spent outside the scope of the subsidy, health officials spokesman Tim Haider said.

The grant included $290,500 to purchase the building, but instead Red Is the Road to Wellness purchased the property for $750,000 and paid for it as requested by health officials. Haider said he failed to secure a state interest in the property.

William Burns, executive director of the Klamath Falls organization, said in a telephone interview Thursday that it was difficult to meet health officials’ reporting requirements.

“The Measure 110 process has been a learning experience for everyone involved, including our organization,” said Barnes. He invited health officials to visit his facility, but they were reluctant, he said.

Barnes said he spent $561,000 in subsidies to purchase and upgrade the building, with the rest coming from outside sources. Burns said in a statement on Friday that the building will house eight apartment buildings for recovery housing, a recovery drop-in center, an employment office and a bakery that will provide on-the-job training.

Burns said he plans to appeal the dismissal while continuing to serve marginalized communities of color.


This version fixes typos and corrects Oregon’s population to 4.2 million.

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