Drug abuse and addiction are huge problems in Oregon. Methamphetamine, opiates (heroin, fentanyl and oxycodone and others) and cocaine damage and kill thousands of people every year. Few of us reach adulthood without knowing someone whose life was destroyed by drug or alcohol addiction. Some of us have been victims of crime in which the perpetrator was seeking a way to fund their addiction.

There is considerable tension between those who believe that dangerous drugs should be illegal, with criminal penalties for their possession versus those who believe use of these drugs is primarily an addiction and thus a mental health and behavioral health issue. Ideally, we should have a behavioral health system that can intervene before the criminal justice system needs to.

Measure 110 on the November ballot would redistribute marijuana tax revenue above $11.25 million per quarter — reducing revenue to schools, state police, mental health programs and local governments. This revenue would be redirected to a new “Drug Treatment and Recovery Services Fund” that would grant money to fund “Addiction Recovery Centers” in each existing coordinated care organization (CCO) service area in the state, as well as “organizations providing substance use disorder treatment, peer support and recovery services, permanent supportive housing and harm reduction interventions” at no cost to the recipients.

It also decriminalizes certain drug offenses for both juveniles and adults, such as possession of: heroin (1 gram or less), cocaine (2 grams or less), methamphetamine (2 grams or less), MDMA, known as ecstasy or molly, (less than 1 gram or 5 pills), LSD (less than 40 user units), psilocybin (less than 12 grams), methadone (less than 40 user units) and oxycodone (less than 40 pills, tablets, or capsules). In doing so, it removes the judicial system’s authority to mandate participation in drug courts or other addiction treatment for those found in possession.

Measure 110 is opposed by the Oregon Association of Chiefs of Police and 26 out of 36 District Attorneys in the state. They believe that law enforcement plays an important role in getting people the help they need — and we agree.

The Oregon Council for Behavioral Health is opposed to Measure 110 because it does not address fundamental problems in Oregon’s addiction treatment and recovery system.

Oregon desperately needs more detox centers, residential and outpatient treatment options, and supports for ongoing recovery. While we appreciate all efforts to provide treatment for those whose lives are controlled by their addiction and to keep them out of the criminal justice system, we don’t think this ballot measure — which seems to be a test case for the New York-based Drug Policy Alliance — is the way to do it.

We recommend a “no” vote on Measure 110.

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