"It's Deja vu all over again," as Yogi Berra would say.
Measure 110 was a unanimous choice for Oregon voters a couple of years ago.
A new phase of substance abuse treatment was ushered in. Now, some legislators, are trying to reverse the voters decision and give marijuana tax money back to local governments.
The current situation in Salem reminds me a of what happened almost 50 years ago. Back in the 1970s, when Iwas ni my 50s, the youth of old age, I was heavily engaged in public service as the public affairs officer for the US Army Corps of Engineers, Northwest Division. Our area covered parts of seven states and Alaska.
My boss, MG Wesley M. Peel, also appointed me as his employee assistance deputy. I was responsible for alcohol and drug addiction treatment and recovery programs for our workers. I was also one of four men who personally financed and founded an independent residential treatment facility in Walla Walla, Washington. The facility was named Newhouse. By the end of my involvement Iwas chairman of the Walla Walla County Human Services Administrative Board, that serviced the mental health, alcoholism and drug abuse treatment programs.
Revolution in thinking
In that era there was a revolution in thinking on how such social programs were administered. We saw federal model legislation that decriminalized public drunkenness. A new approach to mental health was started by closing down large mental health hospitals, and establishing community-based treatment and recovery programs.
Al went well for a few years,then Congress reneged on the glowing promises and cut funds that they had promised. That left the states, counties and communities responsible for programs they couldn't administer because of no funds from Washington D.C. Now, those programs have died, or are a weak version of the original.
Return the money
In 2020 Oregon voters approved Ballot Measure 110, an action that de-criminalized drug use and dedicated a lot of money for treatment. Now a bunch of interests want some of that money returned to cities, counties, and the State Police.
The Oregon House Bill 2083 went before the House Revenue Committee for a hearing recently. Now proponents want to roll back to the old system that sure wasn't working. It's a familiar and old heartless practice that state legisla- tures and Congress re-activate when budgets are lean. Those bodies should be informed that they are dealing with an action that cuts off treatment for addictions and that lives and constituent health are at stake.
It seems that those who write our laws ignore the fact that addiction is a critical public health issue that has to be faced.
Addiction to booze and drugs is inexorably linked to homelessness, violence and crime.
We need more detoxification facilities and residential treatment centers. Currently, there are really no places for most addicts to receive treatment. Ihave been deeply involved in addiction treatment for more that 50 years.Most treatment programs have been successful, but proponents will truthfully admit that none can guarantee that every recovering addict will recover. But big strides have been made. One only has to talk to treatment providers.
The bucket list at 100
Being 100 years old, I have a bucket list of things I want to do and see. I would love to see serious, meaningful research into the cause of addictions, homelessness, violence and crime. I think they are all related and feed on each other. We really need a systems approach to that research. If we can put our people on the moon, we sure ought to do a better job of curing drug addiction and alcoholism.
We shouldn't take money away from good legislation that fights addictions.
Frank King is a resident of Lincoln City.
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