Dr. Bud Pierce, Republican candidate for Oregon Governor, said he would work to repeal the law that decriminalizes hard drugs like methamphetamine and heroin.
The Mental Health and Addiction Certification Board of Oregon (MHACBO) reports that Oregon’s illicit drug use disorders are skyrocketing while treatment options are scarce. The Board extracted the Oregon Data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH).
The comprehensive NSDUH report released in Dec. 2021 “provides national and state-level data on the use of tobacco, alcohol, illicit drugs (including the non-medical use of prescription drugs) and mental health in the United States.”
“Years of misguided policies have culminated in a crisis of drug addiction among Oregonians. Permissive drug possession laws have caused increased crime suffering and provided little hope of finding appropriate treatment,” said Dr. Bud Pierce.
MHACBO shows Oregon’s national ranking, based on the percentage of the state’s population (teens 12-18 and adults). Out of the 50 states, Oregon ranks:
#1 With past year illicit drug use disorder
#1 Reporting past year Rx opioid misuse
#1 Reporting past year methamphetamine use
#2 Substance use disorder
#2 Mental illness in the past year
#2 Serious mental illness
#2 Serious thoughts of suicide
#2 Reporting past month illicit drug use
#2 Reporting past-year marijuana use
#3 Reporting past month illicit drug use (other than marijuana)
#3 Serious mental illness in the past year
#5 Alcohol use disorder in the past year
#5 Major Depressive Episode in the past year
#7 Reporting cocaine use in the past year
#10 Reporting alcohol use
#11 Reporting past year heroin use
#21 Attempted suicide
#25 Made suicide plans.
Finally, Oregon ranks worst in the nation for people needing but not receiving treatments for substance use disorder.
In Dr. Pierce’s statement, he referenced Measure 110, passed in Nov. 2020. Oregon was the first state to experiment with a plan that replaced the threat of jail for people convicted of possession of hard drugs with a maximum $100 citation. They could avoid the fine by starting a drug use evaluation process.
A recent article from OPB reports that millions have been spent on the program. However, less than 1% of those cited for drug possession took advantage of treatment since the program has been in place.
“When we decriminalize drugs, we should in no way use those measures to encourage people to use drugs more frequently to their own detriment. You can’t live a good life when your mind is clouded by drugs,” Dr. Pierce stated.
He added, “What I intend to do as governor is to move us up to number one in the treatment of individuals who are suffering from drug use and misuse and move down the overall drug use in our state.”