Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

Drug Decriminalization Disaster

Posted by M. C. on October 11, 2022

by Laurence M. Vance

It should first of all be said that drug decriminalization, even if it applies only to certain drugs, even if it applies only to possession, even if it applies only to a certain amount of drugs, even if still results in a small fine, and even if it comes with unwelcome government regulations and restrictions, is still much better than drug prohibition that can result in heavy fines, imprisonment, loss of employment, disintegration of families, financial ruin, and a permanent criminal record for those ensnared by laws against “illegal” drugs.

Critics are calling Oregon’s Drug Addiction Treatment and Recovery Act a failure. According to Oregon’s ABC affiliate KATU: “Oregon still has among the highest addiction rates in the country. Fatal overdoses have increased almost 20% over the previous year, with over a thousand dead. Over half of addiction treatment programs in the state lack capacity to meet demand because they don’t have enough staffing and funding.”Drug freedom is the complete absence of laws and regulations concerning the manufacture, distribution, buying, selling, and possession of drugs of any kind.
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The real disaster, however, is that Oregon instituted a drug decriminalization and treatment program instead of drug freedom.

In 2020, Oregon voters approved—by a vote of 58.46 to 41.54 percent—a ballot initiative (Measure 110) to decriminalize controlled substances and establish a drug addiction treatment and recovery program. A “yes” vote on the Drug Addiction Treatment and Recovery Act “supported making personal non-commercial possession of a controlled substance no more than a Class E violation (max fine of $100 fine) and establishing a drug addiction treatment and recovery program funded in part by the state’s marijuana tax revenue and state prison savings.”

The measure reclassified the personal noncommercial possession of a controlled substance in Schedule I-IV, such as heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamines, from a Class A misdemeanor to a Class E violation resulting in a $100 fine or a completed health assessment. The health assessments, which must be completed within 45 days of the violation, “are conducted through addiction recovery centers and include a substance use disorder screening by a certified alcohol and drug counselor.”

The manufacture or distribution of “illegal” drugs are still subject to a criminal penalty.

The measure also “established the Drug Treatment and Recovery Services Fund that would receive funds from the Oregon Marijuana Account and state savings from reductions in arrests, incarceration, and official supervision.” Every quarter, all revenue in excess of $11.25 million must be transferred to the fund for grants “to government or community-run organizations to create addiction recovery centers,” which “are required to provide immediate medical or other treatment 24 hours a day, health assessments, intervention plans, case management services, and peer support and outreach.”

GOP gubernatorial candidate Christine Drazan called Measure 110 a “terrible idea” that “made our addiction crisis worse, not better.” Betsey Johnson, another former lawmaker turned gubernatorial candidate, termed Measure 110 a “failed experiment.” Both candidates want voters to repeal it.

See the rest here

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