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Impacts of Successive Drug Legislation Shifts: Qualitative Observations from Oregon Law Enforcement

NCJ Number
Kelsey S. Henderson; Christopher M. Campbell; Brian Renauer
Date Published
47 pages

This report provides the initial findings of the first year of a multi-year project to explore the effects of successive drug policy efforts in the state of Oregon, focusing on Ballot Measure 110 (M110), which decriminalized possession of controlled substances (PCS) in 2021 and downgraded certain quantities of PCS from a misdemeanor to a citation.


This document is a report on the initial findings from Year 1 of a multi-year project aimed at understanding the effects of drug policy efforts in the state of Oregon. The authors gathered officer perceptions regarding Oregon’s Ballot Measure 110 (M110) and other recent policies that may impact law enforcement practices; they performed 23 interviews and focus groups with 10 agencies across three urban and three rural counties. The interview data represented in this report include officers’ perceptions and decision-making related to drug crimes, among other public safety issues in Oregon. The authors also include quantitative data trends, which include arrests for possession of controlled substances (PCS) and law enforcement stops and searches, to compare to officer perceptions of current events in Oregon. The authors sought to answer the question of how changes to possession of controlled substance laws, including 2021’s M110, have impacted law enforcement perceptions and decision-making related to drug crimes. The authors’ findings suggest that it is too early for researchers to make conclusions about the effects of M110 based on the available data. The authors also note that many observed trends can be attributed to other events that have occurred around the time of the passage of M110, such as the Covid-19 pandemic, however, they highlight that many officers perceived that M110 is not serving the population that is most impacted by drug addiction and substance use disorder