We’ve been talking about it for a while, but now Oregon’s groundbreaking drug decriminalization law is going into effect; offering people arrested for possession an opportunity for recovery over jail time. Not surprisingly, this initiative has made headlines across the country; with a wide range of supporters and opponents. Measure 110, as it has been commonly known, won by a large margin during the state’s most recent election. And now, it is officially a reality and receiving coverage by a variety of news outlets.
Officially, Measure 110 decriminalizes the possession of heroin, cocaine, meth and oxycodone. Previously, people caught with those substances would have to pay large fines and spend several months in jail. Now treatment is available as an option and the fines are actually getting waived if people agree to enter a program.
February 1st is when the law goes into action and several high profile advocates are very excited to follow its results. Kassandra Frederique, executive director of The Drug Policy Alliance, spoke to USA Today about the pending changes, emphasizing that this could be the start of seriously reducing addiction counts throughout the state.
“One of the things people misunderstand is how criminalization creates barriers to treatment,” Frederique explained. “If we want people to make different choices, we have to give them more options … ending criminalization will do leaps and bounds around ending shame, which automatically opens people up for other opportunities.”
The goal, of course, is to have other states take notice of this initiative and follow suit. Cost is often an argument that comes up when opponents speak about it, but Oregon has found a unique way to solve for that. They are one of the many regions that have decriminalized marijuana sales, thus opening up much larger state revenue streams. Taxes generated from cannabis sales are now being directly applied to this program, which, so far, appear to be a solid business model moving forward.
Measure 110 advocates are hopeful that the White House will soon take notice as well. Many have cited quotes that President Joe Biden made from the campaign trail and are pushing to bring this initiative nationwide. Indeed, the USA Today piece correctly points out that President Biden spoke to this very concept during one of his final 2020 debates.
“No one should be going to jail because they have a drug problem,” Biden emphasized when debating Donald Trump. Well now, it does appear as though there is a viable solution to that problem on the horizon.