SALEM, Ore. — An initiative that seeks to expand access to drug addiction treatment programs while decriminalizing some drug offenses has qualified for Oregon's ballot in November.
"The Drug Addiction Treatment and Recovery Act," certified as Ballot Measure 110, proposes to fund wider drug addiction and recovery services, paid for with taxes from legal cannabis sales.
"About one in 10 adults in Oregon need treatment for substance use disorder but have not received it, according to the federal government," supporters of the measure said in a statement. "Measure 110 does not legalize drugs. Rather, it decriminalizes small amounts of drug possession as part of a shift to a health-based approach to addiction."
If passed, Measure 110 would refer people with minor drug possession offenses to treatment and recovery programs or other resources instead of jail sentences. This wouldn't apply to drug trafficking crimes, driving under the influence, or theft charges.
About 8,900 people in Oregon are arrested every year in cases where drugs are the most serious offense — the equivalent of one arrest every hour — supporters said, citing a study from the Oregon Criminal Justice Commission. The same study found racial and ethnic disparities among these kinds of arrests and convictions.
The chief petitioners of the "Yes on 110" campaign are Janie Gullickson, executive director of the Mental Health and Addiction Association of Oregon; Haven Wheelock, a harm reduction specialist at OutsideIn; and Anthony Johnson, a longtime drug reform advocate who was a leader of the Measure 91 campaign to legalize marijuana.
Supporters said that the campaign does not currently face organized opposition.
“But what we are up against are the stereotypes and misinformation from the War on Drugs,” said campaign manager Peter Zuckerman, “so we are going to fight for every vote and make our case to as many people as possible.”