It’s rare for lawmakers to be ahead of the social curve, but Oregon lawmakers just bucked that trend. In fact, they are ahead of the state’s electoral college.

The Oregon Joint Ways and Means Committee recognized the urgency of providing treatment, health and harm reduction services and the provisions to decriminalize all drugs passed by voters in November, and voted 19… Mars for providing $20 million in seed money. Measure 110 entered into force on 1 January 2009. February in operation.

The clearance of the appropriations is more than three months ahead of schedule since the deadline set by the measure for the start of payments is the 30th working day after the end of the year. June is.  Once approved by the full legislature, this funding will be added to the $7.8 million. The $200,000 already transferred to the Addiction and Recovery Services Fund (established under Measure 110) in early February from the McKinsey & Company opioid settlement.

Funding is the key to success

Financing of harm reduction services was a key component of Oregon’s decriminalization law.

The decriminalization project has received widespread support, even from law enforcement officials.

We thank the Oregon Legislature for recognizing the urgent need to provide health and harm reduction services to the public as described in Measure 110, which was supported by more than 58.5 percent of the state’s voters, said Theshia Naidoo, executive director of legal affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance.

We know that the expansion of services goes hand in hand with the success of a decriminalisation policy. We have seen that improving access to health services is the key to success in other countries that have implemented some form of decriminalisation, such as Portugal and Switzerland, and we know that it will happen here too.

The proposal was rejected by the committee on Friday and will now be voted on in the House, where it is expected to pass. Because of the urgency of the bill, the funds are available immediately so that the Oregon Health Authority can quickly distribute them to community organizations in the state that can begin providing services.

The Directive will benefit the most vulnerable

The Health Justice Restoration Alliance is working closely with lawmakers to urgently address Oregon’s substance abuse problem, said Tera Hurst, executive director of the Health Justice Restoration Alliance. Even before the pandemic, Oregon was in the midst of an addiction crisis. We are now seeing providers forced to close facilities and cut staff and programs, when people need these services more than ever. Funding needs are high, and this $20 million will help ensure that providers can serve the most vulnerable populations in our community.

Across the state, service providers are speaking out about how they are using emergency funds to meet the tremendous need for services across the state:

  • This funding will allow us to provide stable, safe and sober housing for up to 25 people struggling with addiction in our rural communities. We can meet needs quickly by increasing the capacity of institutions already integrated into our communities. – Amy Ashton-Williams, executive director of Oregon Health Network, Washington, who works in Union, Umatilla and Morrow counties in Oregon and Walla Walla County in Washington.
  • This money will allow us to combat the disproportionate impact of the racist war on drugs on black, Latino, Native American, and tribal communities by providing housing for black people coming out of prison and hire additional peer support professionals to help people on their path to recovery. – Larry Turner, executive director of Fresh Out.
  • Last summer, our community was severely impacted by wildfires and hundreds of people, many of whom lived in affordable housing, were displaced from their homes. More and more people in our community are using resources to cope with the trauma of what they have experienced and need the services of treatment providers. These funds will provide housing for up to 120 Southern Oregon residents with substance use disorders to help them on their path to recovery. – Lori Paris, president and CEO of Medford Drug Rehabilitation Center.
  • People with addiction are having a particularly hard time during this pandemic, and this money will allow us to provide additional education on overdose prevention, focused on harm reduction, and increase access to naloxone so that people can stay safe. – Haven Wheelock, M.P., an overdose prevention specialist at Outside In.

Last November, Oregon voters made history by passing Measure 110, the Drug Treatment and Recovery Act, which decriminalized personal possession of all drugs and expanded access to evidence-based and culturally appropriate treatment, harm reduction and other health services, peer support and recovery, and even housing and job placement. Drug Policy Action, the advocacy and policy arm of the Drug Policy Alliance, has been the driving force behind this effort.

The Drug Policy Alliance envisions a just society where drug use and drug regulation are based on science, compassion, health and human rights, where people are no longer punished for what they put into their bodies, and where the fears, prejudices and punitive prohibitions of today no longer exist. Our mission is to promote policies and attitudes that minimize the harm of drug use and prohibition and promote self-responsibility of mind and body. For more information, visit drugpolicy.org

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