Oregon’s Measure 110 Could Become a National Model for Treating Drug Addiction

The proposition focuses on drug decriminalization, treatment and recovery

Photo by Michael Longmire on Unsplash

Oregon voters have appeared to pass Measure 110, decriminalizing hard drugs and instead making treatment a priority. It is the first state in the nation to begin to treat drug addiction more holistically as a medical and well-being issue instead of a criminal problem. Its success could act as a model for healing addiction throughout the country, where nearly 38% of adults struggle with an illicit drug use disorder.

While other countries have been tackling drug addiction in a similar way for years, including Portugal and the Netherlands, addiction remains heavily viewed and treated as a crime in the United States. In a country that generally views human behavior as an individual choice rather than an outcome in large part to blame as a matter of circumstance, treating addiction has largely been unsuccessfully resolved by placing people in prison for their addictions rather than offering treatment and recovery.

A simplified version of Measure 110:

What the Measure Does

Measure 110 will most importantly:

  • Reclassify Schedule I-IV drugs (heroine, cocaine, methamphetamines, etc.) from a misdemeanor to a violation or a health assessment. Those who use will likely not face criminalization. Manufacturers and distributors can still face a felony charge.

Decriminalizing these substances is an incredibly important turning point within the U.S. and could substantially change the way that substance use contributes to prison profits. It will likely keep more people out of jail or prison and create alternative pathways forward.

Evidence-based, well-funded recovery programs in the U.S. are entirely lacking for the average person. Oregon could create a shift that helps individuals and their loved ones find the resources they need in a critical time. Services that have crisis care, intermediate care, and aftercare are crucial to healing, and this provision provides that.

How it’s Funded

  • The Drug Treatment and Recovery Services Fund will largely be funded by, well, drugs. Ironic as it is, it’s functional. Marijuana taxes are set to be reallocated towards funding to establish these rehabilitation and recovery centers. In a nation where legalization of recreational marijuana use seems to grow every election, why not use the funds to benefit our comunities?

What the critics say

  • Critics veer in two clear directions: opposition to viewing drug use as a medical issue and preferring to send users to a correctional facility, and those who are in favor of treatment centers, but are weary of how the provision will truly pan out.
  • Those who are weary of the Measure yet support rehabilitation over imprisonment raise concerns about the fact that money will be set aside for recovery centers, but do not yet exist. How many spots are available for users? How many social workers and other behavioral health employees can be readily staffed for these positions? These are fair questions. However, this seems to be an opportunity to create jobs for those working in behavioral science fields.

But if all goes well…

What better time than the present? There will always be bumps to iron out in measures as drastic and forthcoming as these. However, addiction affects nearly all Americans, whether personally or by proxy, impacting our communities universally yet somehow still met with silence and shame. Addiction is nothing to be ashamed of, but our lack of care in providing useful options to help those who are suffering is shameful. Let’s hope that Oregon’s measure folds out to be a national model that can help those we love instead of criminalize and isolate them.

Passionate about reframing the narrative around sexual violence and immigration. Health & Fitness. Runner, Traveler. OG Student. Believer in the Oxford comma.

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