Rather than arrests, addicted Oregonians would have more access to treatment
PORTLAND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- A group of Oregonians on Saturday launched a ballot measure campaign designed to establish a more humane and effective approach to drug addiction.
The Drug Addiction Treatment and Recovery Act would increase the availability of drug treatment and recovery services. Existing marijuana taxes would help pay for it, according to their news release, which continues below.
As part of the shift to a health-based approach to drugs, the initiative would reduce simple drug possession penalties, changing them from misdemeanors to infractions. The Drug Addiction Treatment and Recovery Act does not legalize any drugs.
To qualify the initiative for the ballot, the More Treatment, A Better Oregon campaign needs to collect 112,020 signatures from Oregon voters by early July. The campaign said it would announce next week how many signatures it had collected so far.
The campaign on Saturday announced it had opened two offices, launched its website and started posting on Twitter and Facebook. The campaign published its first campaign video, featuring Janie Gullickson, executive director of the Mental Health and Addiction Association of Oregon.
The More Treatment campaign
announced its first 20+ endorsements:
- ACLU of Oregon
- Basic Rights Oregon
- Bridges to Change
- Community Alliance of Tenants
- Drug Policy Action
- Gang Impacted Family Team
- Harm Reduction Coalition
- Healing Hurt People
- Human Rights Watch
- Human Impact Partners
- Jobs with Justice Portland
- Law Enforcement Action Partnership
- Men Building Men
- Moms United
- The Miracles Club
- New Approach Oregon
- Next Up Oregon
- Oregon Latino Health Coalition
- Oregon State Council For Retired Citizens
- Partnership for Safety and Justice
- Students for Sensible Drug Policy
- Unite Oregon
- United Seniors of Oregon
“People in treatment and recovery have been looking forward to a campaign like this one for decades,” said Richard Harris, founder of Central City Concern and the former director of Mental Health and Addiction Services for the state of Oregon. “Oregon needs a better approach to addiction, and that’s what this initiative provides.”
Last year, Gov. Kate Brown declared addiction a public crisis for Oregon. According to research from the the federal government, Oregon is the state with the highest percentage of people who need treatment but can’t get it. About one in 11 Oregonians are addicted to drugs. One person on average gets arrested for simple drug possession every hour in Oregon, according to the Oregon Criminal Justice Commission, and people of color are disproportionately harmed.
“These arrests are ruining lives,” said Kayse Jama, executive director of Unite Oregon, which advocates for racial justice, immigrants and refugees. “It’s time to start saving lives instead, by improving access to treatment.”
The Drug Addiction Treatment and Recovery Act would specifically provide funding for treatment, peer support, housing and harm reduction. Marijuana tax revenue that’s in excess of $45 million a year would help pay for it. Oregon expects to collect roughly $284.2 million during the 2021-2023 biennium, or roughly $140 million a year.