Drug Decriminalization in Oregon

22nd Annual State Criminal Justice Network Conference
August 16-17, 2023 | Held Virtually

The United States constitutes less than 5 percent of the world’s population yet is prisons house 25 percent of the worldwide prison population. This phenomenon is due large to the War on Drugs.


The War on Drugs has served, and continues to serve, as a powerful mechanism of mass incarceration and oppression in America. The drug war sought to combat the illegal drug trade in the U.S. through policies intended to discourage distribution and consumption. However, the harsh sentencing policies that followed swelled the nation’s prison population and disproportionately targeted communities of color. At every stage of the criminal justice process – from the geographical distribution of police, to stops and searches, to arrest, to pretrial detention, to sentencing, to post-conviction, to collateral consequences – communities of color, especially Black communities, disproportionately bear the brunt of the War on Drugs. In February 2021, Oregon’s drug decriminalization measure (Measure 110) took effect, making it the first state to remove criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of all drugs. Join this panel to hear from advocates who are working to end the drug war and advance a public health approach. Also hear how things are going on the ground in Oregon!

#EndMassIncarceration: 50 Years of Failure

  • Morgan Godvin, Post-Graduate Fellow, Health in Justice Action Lab
  • Tera Hurst, Executive Director, Health Justice Recovery Alliance
  • Emily Kaltenbach, Senior Director of State Advocacy and Criminal Legal Reform, Drug Policy Alliance

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