Pirke Avot Chapter 2:16 teaches us that (Rabbi Tarfon) used to say… It is not up to you to finish the task, but neither are you free to desist from it.” As a rabbi, I often ask myself how every challenge in our society can be addressed and what is my role in ensuring forward momentum on that issue.
That inquiry leads me to support Measure 110, a ballot measure we’ll be voting on in November.
Measure 110 would shift Oregon to a health-based approach to drugs and addiction. Instead of arresting and punishing people for drug possession, we’d expand access to drug addiction treatment and recovery services, paying for it with existing taxes on marijuana.
Oregon really needs this right now. Our state ranks nearly last in access to drug addiction treatment, and nearly two people die of overdoses every day.
Instead of expanding treatment and recovery services, we continue to punish people for being addicted to drugs, arresting more than 8,900 people a year in cases where simple drug possession is the most serious offense. That’s the equivalent of one arrest every hour.
Nothing is gained by shaming, blaming and punishing people because they are addicted to drugs. Shame leads people to despair and disconnection, which makes recovery even harder. While Oregonians use drugs at the same rate regardless of race, Black, Indigenous, Latinx and LGBTQ communities are disproportionately harmed by current drug policies. Over-policing marginalized communities is cruel, expensive and ineffective. It’s time for us to stop.
Our current system creates tremendous harm and unnecessary suffering. Measure 110 takes our state’s current ineffective and cruel approach to drugs and replaces it with evidence-based solutions. It connects people who are deeply suffering with the care they need to get well. It will save lives.