Oregon voters will decide in November whether to expand access to drug addiction treatment and reduce criminal penalties for simple drug possession, the Oregon Secretary of State officially confirmed Aug. 12.
The Drug Addiction Treatment and Recovery Act has been officially certified as Ballot Measure number 110. Measure 110 would expand access around the state to drug addiction treatment and recovery services, paid for with a portion of taxes from legal marijuana sales, according to a press release. About one in 10 adults in Oregon need treatment for substance use disorder but have not received it, according to the federal government.
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.
According to an independent racial and ethnic impact statement released by the Oregon Secretary of State and conducted by the Oregon Criminal Justice Commission, Measure 110 would nearly eliminate racial disparities in drug arrests and convictions. For example, disparities in drug arrests would drop by 95 percent. About 8,900 people in Oregon are arrested in cases where drugs are the most serious offense, which is the equivalent of one arrest every hour, said a press release.
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.
The More Treatment Campaign, soon to be called the Yes on 110 campaign, has been endorsed by more than 75 organizations, including Central City Concern, one of the oldest and largest treatment organizations in Oregon; the Coalition of Communities of Color, which represents 19 culturally-specific community-based organizations; and the Alano Club, the oldest and largest recovery organization in Oregon, said a press release.
The campaign does not face an 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.”