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It's dangerous for kids, takes away treatment

As Jackson County district attorney, I am concerned about the impacts of Measure 110 on our community.

Measure 110 would decriminalize the possession of lethal doses of addictive drugs for teens and adults in Oregon — in the midst of our addiction crisis. On top of this, over the next three years it would take away an estimated $56 million from addiction treatment and prevention, and take away $90 million from schools. And despite false promises, it would not guarantee the creation of a single new treatment bed.

If Measure 110 passes, a 15-year-old could get caught with just under 1 gram of heroin, 2 grams of meth, 2 grams of cocaine, 12 grams of psilocybin, 40 user units of oxycodone, 40 user units of methadone, 40 user units of LSD or 5 user units of MDMA in their pocket — and the only consequences would either be paying a $100 ticket or getting a health assessment.

They could hide either from their parents.

Whereas right now, if a kid — or an adult — gets caught with drugs in Oregon, they are offered state-funded treatment. This is crucial because most people struggling with addiction can’t stop using drugs on their own. If they could, they wouldn’t be addicted. In fact, recent studies show that more than 80% of opioid and meth users refused treatment when it was offered. We know from our experience that often people need to be ordered to do treatment. It takes the external motivation of court diversion programs to get them to the treatment provider. Participants in drug court tell us that the programs saved their lives, helped them to become productive members in the community, and even helped reunite them with their families.

Measure 110 would take the crucial intervention of drug court away — without creating any new proven pathways to treatment. And that will cost lives.

It gets worse. Despite false promises, Measure 110 would not guarantee the creation of a single new treatment bed.

The text of Measure 110 reveals that it does not require the creation of any actual inpatient or outpatient treatment services. It only requires the creation of 16 deceptively named “Addiction Recovery Centers” that will not provide treatment nor recovery services. Instead, they provide five non-treatment services: triage, health assessments, referrals, peer support and outreach.

Assessments are not treatment. Referrals are not access to treatment.

Oregon does not have a shortage of health assessment and referral centers. We have a shortage of residential treatment beds and outpatient programs.

If Measure 110 were truly about more treatment, it would have set clear targets for more real treatment, like more sobering centers and detox facilities, more residential treatment beds, more outpatient care, and more certified drug and alcohol counselors for parents, youths and adults. Measure 110 does none of this, and its unnecessary referral centers will just add people to treatment waiting lists that are already weeks, if not months, long.

Finally, Measure 110 will cost lives by taking away an estimated $45 million over the next three years from cities’ and counties’ mental health and addiction services, and $11 million from the alcohol and drug abuse prevention and intervention that can help stop people — especially youths — from experimenting and becoming addicted in the first place.

Without prevention, people can become addicted. Without intervention, people don’t go into treatment. Without treatment, some people will overdose and die.

Closing pathways to treatment and taking away funding during an addiction epidemic will lead to a spike in overdoses and alcohol-related deaths. Already, every day one to three Oregonians die from a drug overdose while five die from alcohol-related causes. And in the pandemic, we’re seeing substance use soar.

Measure 110 is opposed by 26 out of 36 district attorneys in the state, because we DAs believe that our criminal justice system enforcement plays an important role in getting people the help they need.

Measure 110 is also opposed by the Oregon Council for Behavioral Health, because treatment providers believe the measure does not address the fundamental problems in Oregon’s addiction treatment and recovery system.

And Measure 110 is opposed by Oregon Recovers — the statewide coalition of Oregonians who are living in recovery from addiction — because it will lead to additional unnecessary deaths and reduce enrollment in treatment centers throughout the state.

Join us in voting no on Measure 110. Oregon deserves better. Our loved ones struggling with addiction deserve better.

Beth Heckert is Jackson County District Attorney. Visit VoteNoOn110.com for more information.