No, you’re not reading an article from the Onion. A state typically viewed for its love of big government and socialist ideals has taken a step in the right direction with drug use and treatment. Although not completely free and clear to use drugs, people are given a lot more freedom with the possession and use of several hard drugs. There’s even the increased offering of addiction treatments for people who are struggling with drug use. Now what’s the fine print?
Oregon voters were given the chance to vote on Measure 110 this past election. The measure overwhelmingly passed with over 55% in favor and 44% opposed with 1.1 million votes for and 900,000 against. Under the measure, small possessions of cocaine, heroin, oxycodone, methamphetamine and others are now considered a civil violation with a $100 fine and no potential for jail time. Additionally, people are given the option to participate in a health assessment to avoid the fine. Before, being in possession of small amounts of these drugs was considered a misdemeanor and large amounts was a felony. Now, small amounts are only a civil offense, and large amounts are considered a misdemeanor. However, there’s new protection for drug dealers or manufacturers.
Lets take a step back. Yes, the state is now going to be offering increased addiction treatments at the cost of taxpayer, but its not going to be funded through taxes on everyone. Instead, $57 million of the roughly $100 million the state collects in taxes on marijuana will be diverted into a fund related to the program. People will receive increased access to drug addiction treatments through out the state. Recent studies showed the state is spending an astounding $235 million on addiction treatment already and this program works at reducing the burden on taxpayers.
Most of the country could learn something from Oregon. Too many states look to punishment as a fix for drug addiction. In all reality, punishment does nothing to fix the problem and leads to billion being spent on incarceration. Government needs to stop treatment people like their property. It’s not the government’s business what you put in your body. You shouldn’t be ripped from your job, family, and livelihood because of a drug you use. No, we’re not advocating for drug use, but you’re not the government’s property.