Make the McKenzie Connection!

Fixing Measure110

Conversations regarding Measure 110’s (M110) failure and the drug addiction crisis have been ongoing for well over a year and really began in earnest during January Legislative Days. The Joint Workgroup on Addiction and Community Safety Response (JASCR) held multiple public meetings beginning in October 2023 to hear testimony and develop policy recommendations and the corresponding budget request. When the short session begins on February 5th the discussions will continue and intensify as various policy options are vetted.

I sit on both the House Behavioral Health/Health Care & Judiciary workgroups and will be involved in the policy discussions. Additionally, the Speaker appointed me to the JASCR budget workgroup to work on developing budget options to submit to the Joint Ways and Means Workgroup, which are due February 7th.

Fixing M110’s implementation failures so that people struggling with addiction have access to treatment will take a significant amount of energy and a practical approach informed by the data we have gathered since implementation. A piece of data that struck me most is that on average 200 citations are issued statewide each month, with about 5 people calling the number to seek treatment. That’s 2.5 percent, meaning that citations don’t work for 97.5 percent of the people. This is a telling statistic – and one which makes intuitive sense. People suffering from addiction, particularly those living on the streets, are focused on the very basics – finding a spot to sleep, finding something to eat, and satisfying their addiction. We have all tried to change a habit before – it is even harder for long-time addicts whose brains have been re-wired. They need our help. We need to offer an opportunity to reset, which is why I strongly support recriminalizing possession to an A misdemeanor. Recriminalization allows for an intervention to empower people to decide to seek treatment, not from a place of addiction, but rather from a place of sobriety and stability. Hopefully, then they will accept treatment, not only for their addiction but also for any co-occurring mental health issues they may be dealing with.

Being arrested for possession should not be an anvil around someone’s neck, preventing them from fulfilling their potential and living a meaningful life. Measures to mitigate an arrest through methods like automatic expungements should be included. People battling addiction should not be outcasts – they need to be offered an opportunity to enter treatment and pursue recovery.

The significance of fixing M110 can’t be overstated. The effects are felt by us all, some more than others, unfortunately. It’s time for the legislature to step up, which includes acknowledging and understanding human nature and motivations. This approach is compassionate. This approach respects people. Providing an opportunity for people to enter treatment while simultaneously improving community safety are solutions I fully support. I look forward to representing our district during this session. Please do not hesitate to reach out to my office at any time with your thoughts and concerns.

Charlie Conrad is the State Representative for Oregon’s House District 12. [email protected], 503-968-1412.


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