Oregon, awash in treatment funds after decriminalizing drugs, now must follow the money
Funding for drug treatment centers in Oregon, financed by the state’s pioneering drug decriminalization policy, stood at over a quarter-billion dollars Friday as officials called for closer monitoring of where the money goes.
That need for oversight was demonstrated Wednesday when state officials terminated a $1.5 million grant agreement with a drug recovery nonprofit in Klamath Falls accused of failing to submit completed expenditure and data reports and buying a building for more than double the authorized amount.
That $1.5 million is just a drop in a huge bucket — $264.6 million has been allocated to date for recovery centers — and state officials have a massive responsibility to ensure the money does what it is supposed to: combatting drug use in a state with one of the nation’s highest addiction rates.
Oregon’s drug decriminalization had a rocky start after voters approved it in a 2020 ballot measure. Only a tiny number of people have accessed treatment services after being ticketed for possessing drugs, and funding to treatment providers was delayed.
But as of Friday, $184 million has been handed out to these behavioral health resource networks, or BHRNs, in a state of 4.2 million people.
To ensure things run smoothly, the Measure 110