Does drug decriminalization increase unintentional drug overdose deaths?: Early evidence from Oregon Measure 110

J Health Econ. 2023 Sep:91:102798. doi: 10.1016/j.jhealeco.2023.102798. Epub 2023 Jul 28.


This paper evaluates the causal effect of drug decriminalization on unintentional drug overdose deaths in a context with relatively poor access to drug treatment services. Using the synthetic control method, I find that when Oregon decriminalized small amounts of drugs in February 2021, it caused 182 additional unintentional drug overdose deaths to occur in Oregon in 2021. This represents a 23% increase over the number of unintentional drug overdose deaths predicted if Oregon had not decriminalized drugs.

Keywords: Drug decriminalization; Illicit drugs; Synthetic control method.

MeSH terms

  • Drug Overdose*
  • Humans
  • Oregon / epidemiology