Election season is upon us and, while most of the attention is being focused on the presidential race, there are several smaller initiatives that are worth noting. In Oregon, for example, a landmark proposition is hitting the ballot this November, which touches upon decriminalizing certain drug charges and improving recovery programs.
Known as Measure 110, this one is actually getting quite a bit of national attention. Oregon is known for its progressive politics and, if a move like this passes, it could set a precedent for similar measures to go forward across the U.S. Naturally, 110 has its supporters and opponents; both with their fair share of arguments.
The movement itself would provide over $100 million in treatment funding for people struggling to pay for recovery programs. It would also greatly reduce the penalties for anyone caught with “personal, non-commercial possession of most drugs” (which would include heroin, crystal meth and cocaine). The decriminalization element aims to reduce jail time, which typically happens when people are caught with those substances, to a $100 fine and probation.
Funding for the measure would come from the state’s marijuana tax revenue and it is worth noting that 110 has gotten the support of famed news outlet, The Oregonian. Local advocate Anthony Johnson is behind the measure and has appeared on numerous programs to build support for the cause.
Johnson recently shared his perspective with the Portland station, KATU, emphasizing that the current system in “broken” and decriminalization isn’t as scary as it sounds.
“This measure will provide $100 million in treatment for much needed services and treatment recovery options that we need desperately in this state,” he explained. ” Many of my opponents think the current system in place is fine and we can try to pass something later. We need to pass something now because Oregon cannot afford to wait. And as far as decriminalization goes, larger amounts will remain criminal offenses. This measure only applies to misdemeanor amounts that are the lowest level possession offenses. Driving under the influence, selling, other offenses related to drug addiction, will remain.”
The measure’s biggest opponents claim it will lead to severe tax increases and a possible spike in juvenile addictions; which they believe will be a side effect of the decriminalization. We, for one, do agree with putting more financial support toward recovery services. Sending people to jail for their dependencies has also proven to be quite problematic for decades. So while Measure 110 may not be 100% foolproof, it does feel like a step in a positive direction.