Year of Publication



Martin School of Public Policy and Administration

Date Available


Degree Name

Master of Public Administration

Committee Chair

Karen Blumenschein

Executive Summary

In November 2020, the Drug Addiction Treatment and Recovery Act (also known as Measure 110) was passed in Oregon with the purpose to provide access to treatment and recovery services available to anyone who may need to utilize them, while focusing on a health-oriented approach towards substance use disorder (SUD) across the state through the removal of low-level drug possession criminal penalties (Oregon Health Authority, n.d.). Historically, Oregon has consistently had some of the highest rates of substance use in the U.S., making this a pertinent issue which was addressed through the implementation of Measure 110. Citing a critical need for SUD treatment and support across the state, in addition to other mental health care gaps, Oregon chose to utilize the decriminalization approach to hopefully close these care gaps and hopefully reduce rates of SUD in the state (Shea, 2023). The policies behind Measure 110 were largely based off the Portuguese Drug Policy Model (PDPM) which decriminalized the possession of illicit substances in Portugal and put in place many safeguards to orient towards a more treatment and support based model for substance use disorder and mental health treatment (Rego et al., 2021). Prior to Measure 110, Oregon experienced an increase in crime rates, particularly in big cities (Oregon Health Authority, n.d.). Although the COVID-19 pandemic certainly could have contributed to the rise in crime, there are many theories surrounding the relationship between crime rates and illicit drug use which could be contributing to the increasing prevalence of these issues in Oregon. For instance, in states where the use of illicit drugs is criminalized, the procurement, possession, and use of the drug itself is a criminal act; the use of a drug can also contribute to criminal activity by altering the user's mental status and behavior, possibly even leading to violence and otherwise out of character acts (U.S. Department of Justice, n.d.). It’s difficult to quantify this relationship because majority of crimes occur for a variety of reasons

(personal, economical, situational, etc.) and the definition of a “drug-related” crime is not clear-cut, meaning that studies can have inconsistent results based upon their criteria. However, there is strong evidence across the board that “indicates that drug users are more likely than nonusers to commit crimes, that arrestees and inmates were often under the influence of a drug at the time they committed their offense, and that drug trafficking generates violence” despite a definitive conclusion on how much drug use influences crime (U.S. Department of Justice, n.d.). It is also difficult to quantify exact rates of substance use disorder prevalence in any area. Self-reporting is not entirely reliable and many of the available surveys have ‘flawed’ questionnaires, meaning the language is stigmatizing and could possibly deter the participants from answering truthfully (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration [SAMHSA], 2021.). Furthermore, most of those who suffer with SUD also do not receive treatment, making data collection even harder, so the statistics available on SUD rates can only be estimated. For this reason, the rates of fatal drug overdoses will be used to determine the impact of Measure 110, as this can help us better determine the impact of substance use disorder in Oregon with a more concrete measure. This capstone aims to examine relevant theories and literature surrounding drug policy and perform a difference-in-differences analysis to answer the following research question: How has the passage of Measure 110 (the Drug Addiction Treatment and Recovery Act) impacted rates of fatal drug overdoses, property crime, and violent crime in the state of Oregon?

Available for download on Wednesday, May 01, 2024