Under Measure 110, kids could hide hard drug use from parents

As a father who lost a son to fentanyl overdose, I strongly oppose Measure 110. 

The measure would decriminalize the possession of lethal doses of addictive drugs for children and adults in Oregon — in the midst of our addiction crisis. 

If Measure 110 passes, a 15 year old could get caught with just under one gram of heroin, two grams of meth, two grams of cocaine, 12 grams of psilocybin, 40 user units of oxycodone (which is often cut with unknown amounts of fentanyl), 40 user units of methadone, 40 user units of LSD, or five user units of MDMA in their pocket — and the only consequences would either be paying a $100 fine or getting a health assessment. 

They could hide either from their parents.

Having a child walk away without their parents knowing they’re in trouble — and I don’t mean with the law, I mean with their life — terrifies me.

Marijuana is one thing. But the drugs Measure 110 would decriminalize can be a death sentence. To make those drugs OK to possess, especially for a kid, will make them seem OK to try. With addictive drugs, experimentation can easily lead to addiction, and as too many Oregon parents know, addiction can lead to unspeakably tragic loss.

Measure 110 also takes away a key pathway to addiction treatment and recovery: court intervention. 

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 percent of opioid and meth users refused treatment when it was offered. But many people in long-term recovery credit the external motivation of court diversion programs with “saving my life” or “rescuing me from myself.” These are high quality treatment services that families of many teens and vulnerable adults otherwise could never afford.

Measure 110 would take the crucial intervention of court diversion programs away from children, teens and young people, without creating any new proven pathways to treatment. 

It gets worse. Over the next three years, Measure 110 would take away an estimated $56 million from addiction treatment and prevention services. It will also take away $90 million from schools. 

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.

And despite false promises, Measure 110 would not guarantee the creation of a single new treatment bed.

All the measure requires is the creation of 16 centers that provide screenings and referrals, not treatment. Oregon doesn’t have a shortage of health assessment and referral centers. We have a shortage of residential treatment beds. Screenings are not treatment. Referrals are not access to treatment.

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, youth and adults. Measure 110 does none of this, and its unnecessary referral centers will just add people to treatment waitlists that are already weeks, if not months, long. 

Measure 110 is opposed by 27 out of 36 district attorneys in the state because 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, the statewide substance use and mental health treatment provider association, because treatment providers know it does not address fundamental problems in Oregon’s addiction treatment and recovery system.

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

Jerome Grant is a Depoe Bay City Council member and local restaurant owner. Visit VoteNoOn110.com for more information.


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