Voters approve Oregon's four statewide ballot measures
All four statewide ballot measures were approved by Oregon voters in the Nov. 3 general election. Wednesday morning returns showed voters supported campaign finance reform, increased tobacco taxes and legalized use of psilocybin, while voting to approve a measure to decriminalize possession of hard drugs such as methamphetamine.
Measure 107 cruised to victory 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 it, filed by the Taxpayers' Association of Oregon and Kyle Markley, the Libertarian candidate for Secretary of State.
Measure 108 also passed easily, with 66% of the vote as of Wednesday morning, Nov. 4. The measure raises Oregon's cigarette tax to $2 per pack, a 67-cent boost over the current tax, and raises the per-cigar tax from 50 cents to $1. It also would extend the tax to vaping products such as electronic cigarettes.
The Oregon Health Authority can use the money to fund health care for low-income people as well as on 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 a par with rates in California and Washington, and takes effect Jan. 1.
Supporters raised more than $13.5 million — far outstripping opponents, who raised a mere $7,000.
It was 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.
Measure 109 won with 56% of the vote. It makes Oregon the nation's 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 would 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 under way. But opponents, such as the Oregon Psychiatric Physicians Association, contended 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.
No single campaign committee opposed the measure. The Advance Liberty committee opposes all four statewide ballot measures, but spent little.
As he celebrated with sponsors, including Portland-based therapists Tom and Sheri Eckert, Sam Chapman, campaign manager for Yes on 109, hailed the victory.
"All eyes are on Oregon over the next two years as we develop this program," Chapman told the Portland Tribune. "I'm sure we'll be hearing from California and Washington and New York and Colorado (and) Florida after this."
Measure 110 also won a strong lead, garnering 59% of the vote. It would decriminalize hard drugs and direct 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 will 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 shifts 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.
Peter Wong contributed to this article.
This story will be updated as more election results are available.
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