2020 has been a year of unexpected outcomes to say the least and, in many respects, a cautionary tale about how small, seemingly innocuous actions can lead to undesirable, albeit, predicable results.
In 1973, Oregon was the first state to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana. In 1998, the state legalized the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes and in 2014, Oregon voters ended the state’s prohibition against the possession and use of marijuana by adults while also regulating and taxing the sales of limited quantities of pot to people 21 years of age and older.
In 2020, to no one’s great surprise given the state’s trajectory, Oregonians voted to decriminalize the use of hard drugs like cocaine, heroin, methamphetamines, oxycodone (without a prescription), opium, LSD, anabolic steroids, tranquilizers and peyote. Under measure 110, noncommercial possession of these drugs would be considered no more than a Class E violation, subject to a fine of no more than $100 or, under certain circumstances, the completion of a health assessment.
As election day approached, dissension mounted between backers of the measure and officials from the state’s treatment and recovery communities about the diverting of existing cannabis tax revenues away from schools and from a variety of mental health, treatment and prevention programs in order to set up the new “assessment and referral centers” called for by the measure.
According to an Oct. 9 opinion piece in The Register-Guard by a district attorney and the director of a community based addiction treatment program “Not only would Measure 110 essentially legalize addictive drugs, it would dismantle the only pathway to addiction recovery for many Oregon youth and adults – court diversion programs” which “motivate thousands of people to make life changes and start their journey toward a lifetime of recovery from addiction.” This statement was