I’m an Addiction Treatment Specialist, 15 ½ Years Sober, and Fully in Support of Oregon’s New Law Decriminalizing Drug Use
By Dave Marlon, CEO of CrossRoads of Southern NV & VegasStronger
Measure 110 passed in Oregon with 55.8% of the vote on election day, clearing the way for the state to become the first in the nation to decriminalize the personal possession of small amounts of cocaine, heroin, oxycodone, and methamphetamine.
The ballot measure also reallocates cannabis tax funds to be used for health assessments, addiction treatment, harm reduction, and other services for people with addiction disorders.
The idea behind the ballot measure is to get people suffering from addiction disorders out of the criminal justice system and onto the addiction treatment path.
As an alcoholic in recovery and addiction counselor, one would think I’d be against such a measure to essentially legalize drugs; but let me explain why I’m in favor of it and why I think it could be a smart model for the rest of the country, especially as we look at options to treat the opioid crisis and try to solve America’s “war on drugs.”
15+ years ago when I was struggling with alcohol and cocaine use, I wish I had the treatment options that were just put in place in Oregon – it might have shaved a few years of recklessness out of me.
Even currently, in 49 states in America, there aren’t the treatment options available that just went into effect with Measure 110 in Oregon. For example, with Measure 110, if you are caught with a small amount of drugs, you are issued a $100 ticket. The $100 is waived if you show up for a health assessment or treatment, all of which is paid for by The State of Oregon, not the patient.
I struggled for years and years earlier in my life with the idea that I might end up in jail or the moral stigma of addiction would be too much. I also thought the idea of treatment was just way too expensive. Back then, I couldn’t have imagined what good treatment would do and certainly couldn’t justify the cost. I’m currently 15 ½ years sober and happier than I’d ever imagined I’d be.
Let’s face it, we do have a raging drug problem across the country. We have called it The Epidemic Within the Pandemic here at my treatment center. We also have states who clearly want to legalize cannabis, as exemplified by the 4 states that just legalized it on election day: Arizona, Montana, New Jersey, South Dakota.
Why not tie the taxes from legal cannabis to treatment programs in all states who have legal cannabis? If we know we have a drug problem, if we know how to solve it and if we have a way to pay for treatment – why wouldn’t we help people?
That’s why I fully support Oregon’s Measure 110 and believe it could be a model for other states as they legalize cannabis and look for ways to deal with drug problems. We know the answer to addiction is treatment, so why not use it? Treatment, and I’ve seen this with myself and countless patients, is the way to a healthy and fulfilling life.
Oregon gives me hope that we may finally be on the path to providing relief for the addiction crisis in this country.