Oregon voters approved all four statewide ballot measures Tuesday, including first-in-the-nation measures decriminalizing hard drugs and allowing therapeutic use of psilocybin mushrooms.
Voters also supported campaign finance reform and increased tobacco taxes.
Decriminalizing hard drugs
Measure 110 garnered 58% of the vote. It decriminalizes hard drugs and directs funds for addiction treatment.
The measure makes Oregon the first state to decriminalize personal-use amounts of methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine, oxycodone and other hard drugs, levying fines instead. It would downgrade possession of larger amounts from a felony, carrying a state prison sentence, to a misdemeanor punishable by less than a year in a local jail. The measure would shift marijuana tax revenues away from schools and into drug treatment.
Supporters of the measure raised about $3.5 million, most of it from the New York—based Drug Policy Alliance.
Opponents raised nearly $150,000 and spent about $75,000. In addition to former Gov. John Kitzhaber and 25 of Oregon’s 36 district attorneys, plus the associations of sheriffs and police chiefs, some treatment providers opposed the measure.
Measure 109 passed with almost 56% of the vote. It makes Oregon the first state to allow limited therapeutic use of psilocybin, a psychoactive ingredient found in “magic” mushrooms.
Under Measure 109, people will pay for the mushrooms, which are subject to a state tax set at 15% of the retail price. They will be barred from taking them home, instead using them at licensed locations. Unlike legal marijuana, the measure permits no marketing.
Supporters argued that psilocybin may help with mental health issues, such as addiction or depression stemming from advanced cancer. And studies are underway. But opponents, such as the Oregon Psychiatric Physicians Association contend that psilocybin has not been established as a safe treatment.
Supporters raised nearly $3.5 million to support the measure, most of it from New Approach PAC, a Washington, D.C.-based political action committee that favors drug policy reform.
There is no single campaign committee in opposition to the measure. The Advance Liberty committee opposes all four statewide ballot measures, but spent little.
As he celebrated with sponsors Portland-based therapists Tom and Sheri Eckert, the campaign manager for Yes on 109 told the Portland Tribune he hailed the victory.
“All eyes are on Oregon over the next two years as we develop this program,” Sam Chapman said. “I’m sure we’ll be hearing from California and Washington and New York and Colorado (and) Florida after this.”
Campaign contribution limits
Measure 107 won with 78% of the vote. It amends the state Constitution to make it clear that campaign contributions can be capped. A 1997 Oregon Supreme Court ruling threw out limits on free-speech grounds, but in 2016 and 2018 voters in Multnomah County and Portland, respectively, approved local contribution limits to raise the issue again. After lawmakers referred the measure to the ballot, in April the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the county’s limits — but the ballot measure aims to set out the legal lay of the land clearly.
Polls have shown overwhelming support for campaign contribution limits, so the outcome is not a surprise. Supporters raised barely more than $170,000 to support the measure.
The campaign faced little opposition outside of ballot arguments against filed by the Taxpayers’ Association of Oregon and Kyle Markley, the Libertarian candidate for Secretary of State.
Cigarette tax hike, adding vaping tax
Measure 108 passed with 66% of the vote. The measure raises Oregon’s cigarette tax $2 per pack, from $1.33 to $3.33 per pack, and raises the per-cigar tax from 50 cents to $1. It also extends the tax to vaping products such as electronic cigarettes. The Oregon Health Authority would use the money to fund health care for low-income people as well as programs aimed at tobacco-related diseases.
Products for tobacco-use cessation and for marijuana vaping are exempted from the measure.
The increased tax puts Oregon on par with rates in California and Washington, and would take effect Jan. 1.
Supporters have raised more than $13.5 million —far outstripping opponents, who raised a mere $7,000.
It’s a huge contrast from 2007, when major tobacco companies spent what was then a record of $12 million to defeat an 85-cent tax increase.
Opposition arguments were filed by the Taxpayers Association of Oregon and Eric Fruits, a vice president of the Cascade Policy Institute, a free market think tank in Portland.
“We are proud to be part of this extraordinary effort to protect health care for the 1 in 4 Oregonians who rely on the Oregon Health Plan for coverage and save lives through vaping and tobacco reduction and prevention,” said Lisa Vance, chief executive for Providence Health & Services-Oregon, of the results.