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New Research Report Evaluates Drug Addiction Treatment Recovery Act Implementation

Two years ago, Oregon began implementing the Drug Addiction Treatment Recovery Act (DATRA). Commonly known as Measure 110, DATRA made Oregon the first state in the U.S. to decriminalize small amounts of drugs for personal use. Soon after, Comagine Health, in partnership with Vital Strategies, began evaluating the DATRA implementation process to find out what was working well and what needed to be improved. The results of this research are available in a new report, “Oregon Decriminalizes Drugs: A State-Level Process Evaluation of Early Implementation.”

The study aimed to:

  • Illustrate Oregon's approach to implementing DATRA from passage through the funding of local services in the fall of 2022
  • Provide information on implementing decriminalization to other states, along with recommendations and early lessons

The study does not address the impacts of DATRA, but rather lays the groundwork for researchers studying the law's effects over time.

Research focused on three critical parts of implementing DATRA:

  • Restructuring criminal penalties for drug possession to reduce arrests
  • Expanding funding for low-barrier substance use treatment and other services for people who use drugs
  • Leading with a community advisory council making key governing and funding decisions

Researchers surveyed and interviewed key decision makers from Oregon involved in policymaking, governing and the criminal legal system about implementing the law. In addition, they conducted document analysis and observed public meetings.

The report details the three components of DATRA implementation, describes the successes and challenges encountered, shares lessons learned and makes recommendations for improving implementation.

“Oregon has taken crucial action to address the harms of drug criminalization and interrupt the chronic underfunding of services for people who use drugs, said Christi Hildebran, Comagine Health’s vice president of research and evaluation. “The research team hopes the report’s focus on feedback from knowledgeable stakeholders about the challenges Oregon faced implementing DATRA can help inform other states considering decriminalization.”

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