Portland, Ore. — In response to the ongoing drug crisis in Portland, state leaders convened on Monday in a conference room off Northeast Sandy Boulevard to address concerns related to open-air drug use and the impact of ballot Measure 110. The meeting, led by former gubernatorial candidate Christine Drazan, involved state representatives, leaders in Portland’s recovery field, and the head of a southeast Portland neighborhood association.
Drazan acknowledged the complexity of the issue, stating, “This is not an easy issue. There are no simple or easy fixes to this.” Rob Nosse, a Democratic state representative, emphasized the seriousness with which the legislature is approaching the topic and expressed dissatisfaction with the rollout of Measure 110.
Alan Evans, founder of Bybee Lakes Hope Center, Oregon’s largest homeless shelter and recovery re-entry program, noted concerns about the ease of remaining in current situations compared to seeking help. The meeting, lasting an hour and a half, was part of ongoing discussions addressing the addiction crisis in Oregon.
When questioned about the goal of the meeting, Drazan explained that it aimed to exert pressure on the state legislature to make changes to Oregon’s drug policies in the upcoming legislative session. She emphasized the importance of creating opportunities for public engagement to ensure a responsive political outcome.
The nonprofit “A New Direction,” founded by Drazan, focuses on advocating for solutions outside of election cycles. About 30 minutes into the meeting, discussions turned to potential solutions, including repealing Measure 110 and establishing connections between police officers and available drug treatment options for referrals.
Sgt. Aaron Schmautz, president of the Portland Police Association, expressed law enforcement’s concern about moving away from jail-only solutions and emphasized the need for collaboration between service providers and law enforcement to enhance effectiveness.
The report also highlighted the formation of a new bipartisan legislative committee in Salem dedicated to finding solutions to Oregon’s addiction crisis, with Governor Tina Kotek leading a task force in Portland focusing on similar issues. Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler’s office, responding via email, reiterated the mayor’s concerns about the Measure 110 rollout and stressed the need for collaborative efforts among state leaders to address the crisis.