As Oregon Moves to Decriminalize Drugs Emphasizing Rehabilitation Over Incarceration Muse Treatment Center in Los Angeles Wonders if California May Do the Same
Los Angeles, CA – Oregon has shifted its strategy in the fight against drug addiction, and Muse Treatment hopes California will follow its example of helping rather than punishing addicts.
In November 2020, Oregon voters approved a referendum known as Measure 110, the Drug Addiction Treatment and Recovery Act. Measure 110 decriminalizes all illegal drugs, including heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine and oxycodone, replacing criminal punishment with treatment. Instead of going to jail for possession of an illicit drug, an offender will be fined $100. If they undergo a health assessment, the fine will be waived.
Among other provisions, Measure 110 set up a network of Addiction Recovery Centers financed by Oregon’s cannabis tax and a Telephone Addiction Recovery Center which would be open 24/7.
“The measure’s goal is to establish a more health-based, equitable and effective approach to drug addiction in Oregon by shifting the response to drug possession from criminalization to treatment and recovery,” the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) explains.
“What we know is that punishment for addiction doesn’t work and doesn’t improve outcomes for people,” says Steve Allen, OHA behavioral health director. Allen says overdoses in Oregon have soared by 70% in Oregon since the COVID-19 pandemic struck in March of 2020.
Supporters of decriminalizing drug laws say the so-called “war on drugs” has not worked. Instead, addiction rates have skyrocketed since authorities adopted a hard-line approach to drug abuse in the 1970s. In addition, punishment has been more often directed at people of color.
Many organizations are joining the call for decriminalization of drug laws, including the Drug Policy Alliance, which called for the change in a July 2017 report, “It’s Time for the U.S. to Decriminalize Drug Use and Possession.”
“Drug decriminalization is a critical next step toward achieving a rational drug policy that puts science and public health before punishment and incarceration,” the report asserts. “Decades of evidence have clearly demonstrated that decriminalization is a sensible path forward that would reap vast human and fiscal benefits while protecting families and communities”.
Cannabis is legal in California, where Muse Treatment operates a network of addiction treatment centers. The state is considering decriminalizing psychedelic drugs as well. Muse hopes the state will follow Oregon’s lead in adopting a more compassionate – and more effective -- approach toward all forms of drug abuse.
Muse Treatment offers comprehensive treatment of alcohol dependence or other substance use disorders. For help or more information, call 800-426-1818.
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1251 Westwood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90024