In November 2020, Oregonians voted to pass Measure 110, a ballot initiative that decriminalizes the possession of small amounts of all drugs and increases access to low-barrier substance use disorder treatment and harm reduction services. Led by the Drug Policy Alliance, the ballot measure is a historic step forward to address drug-related arrests that disproportionally impact low-income and people of color. Legislatures in other states looking to introduce similar initiatives are now looking at evaluation efforts of Measure 110 to guide future drug decriminalization policies.
Policy evaluations, however, often fail to engage people with lived experiences in the research and evaluation process. “Any research is only good as the research questions that are asked,” shares Alex Kral, a Distinguished Fellow at the nonprofit research institute RTI International. “Sometimes we find that those questions are not actually what’s important to the people most directly impacted by the policy.” To ensure that evaluations of Measure 110 reflect the values of people who use drugs, a working group of experts, including Kral and CHERISH Policy Advisory Board Member Jules Netherland, convened to develop evaluation principles of Measure 110.