Now Gullickson, executive director of the Mental Health & Addiction Association of Oregon, is determined to give other addicts the same opportunity. That’s why she pushed for the passage of Measure 110, first-of-its-kind legislation that decriminalizes the possession of all illegal drugs in Oregon, including heroin, cocaine, meth and oxycodone. Instead of a criminal-justice-based approach, the state will pivot to a health-care-based approach, offering addicts treatment instead of prison time. Those in possession will be fined $100, a citation that will be dropped if they agree to a health assessment.
“One of the things people misunderstand is how criminalization creates barriers to treatment,” says Kassandra Frederique, the executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, a national nonprofit dedicated to legalizing illicit drug use. “If we want people to make different choices, we have to give them more options … ending criminalization will do leaps and bounds around ending shame, which automatically opens people up for other opportunities.”
“I hope that we all become more enlightened across this country that substance abuse is not something that necessitates incarceration, but speaks to other social ills – lack of health care, lack of treatment, things of that nature,” says Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, D-N.J., an outspoken critic of the War on Drugs. “If you’re white and wealthy, you get an opportunity to get a break, go home to your family and go into some kind of health care environment.”usatoday Oregon decriminalizes all drugs, offers treatment instead of jail time