Updated: Dec. 12, 2023, 8:57 a.m. Published: Dec. 10, 2023, 6:45 a.m.
Oregonians who want to recriminalize possession of small amounts of fentanyl, methamphetamine and other street drugs should start with this understanding: Undoing one of the key provisions of Ballot Measure 110 won’t cure Oregon’s addiction crisis. Nor will it reverse the state’s severe deficit of treatment options. Law enforcement, often asked to be the last resort for the community’s most intractable problems, cannot fix the chaos with arrests.
But Oregonians who oppose recriminalizing possession of drugs also must admit that record overdose deaths, drug-fueled crime and the state’s utter abandonment of youth who use drugs require the community to employ every effective tool at its disposal. The ability of law enforcement to intervene with drug users at multiple points in the criminal justice system – even without booking someone into jail – expands the lifesaving possibilities for people who would not seek treatment on their own.