Tag: Breonna Taylor

Oregonians, Vote Yes on 110 to End Harmful Drug War Arrests and Convictions

Oregon has made a lot of progress ending harmful Drug War arrests and convictions, but there is still more work to be done. Let’s take the next step by passing Measure 110, the Drug Addiction Treatment and Recovery Act and move Oregon towards treating addiction with a health-based approach similar to the successful system that Portugal established nearly two decades ago. If you want to put an end to Drug War tragedies, such as the killing of Breonna Taylor, passing Measure 110 is a great start.

I’m honored to serve as a chief petitioner of this important measure, along with Haven Wheelock, a public health expert and advocate at Outside In, and Janie Gullickson, the executive director of the Mental Health and Addiction Association of Oregon. Measure 110 will end over 8,000 drug possession arrests and set aside over $100 million dollars for treatment and recovery programs that include job training, housing assistance, and harm reduction interventions.

As the Oregon Criminal Justice Commission notes, Measure 110 will end about 90% of all personal drug possession arrests. Currently, we are arresting nearly 9,000 people every year for misdemeanor drug possession, without funding adequate treatment programs. These arrests and convictions merely saddle people with criminal records, hurting their ability to get a job, an education, and housing. Further, as the justice commission states, Black and Indigenous Oregonians are disproportionately harmed by these drug arrests and convictions and Measure 110 will eliminate racial disparities of these harmful punishments by 95%.

Measure 110 pays for treatment, recovery, and harm reduction programs that include housing assistance, job training, and peer support by utilizing excess cannabis tax revenue. When Oregon first voted to legalize cannabis, only $40 million was expected to be brought in. Now, the state brings in over 3x that amount. Measure 110 locks in the first $45 million for the programs originally scheduled for funding and the Oregon Legislature ensured that the $9 billion dollar school budget will NOT be cut, thus money that is earmarked for law enforcement will now go to funding more treatment and recovery programs.

Measure 110 is a win-win for Oregon. If you are undecided, or know anyone that is undecided on the measure, have them read the endorsement of the Portland Mercury, or The Oregonian, and take a look at the long list of endorsers that include the Oregon Nurses Association, the Oregon Academy of Family Physicians, the Oregon School Psychologist Association, and the Law Enforcement Action Partnership (LEAP, formerly Law Enforcement Against Prohibition).

Longtime cannabis legalization supporter Congressman Earl Blumenauer is once again on the right side of history, urging Oregonians to end harmful Drug War possession arrests and treat drug use and addiction as a health issue, instead of a law enforcement one.

Unite Oregon Helping Lead the Call to Divest Cannabis Taxes from the Portland Police Bureau

As civil rights protests following the death of George Floyd have entered the third week of people taking to the streets, a remarkable set of reforms have already occurred. Those of us that have been involved with drug policy and criminal justice reform for awhile understand that much-needed changes can take years, if not decades, if happen even at all. To see new laws and regulations already implemented across the nation, from Louisville, Kentucky, passing the Breonna Taylor Law banning no-knock raids to New York finally making the Eric Garner Anti-Chokehold Act law, and even some action taking place at the federal level, has been heartening. But much more needs to be done.

Unite Oregon has helped take the lead on reforming police funding, including calling upon the City of Portland to divest local cannabis tax dollars from funding the Portland Police Bureau. Unite’s petition calling for action includes this provision: “Divest City of Portland Cannabix Tax funds from the PPB budget and invest them into reparations for those harmed by the War on Drugs, which disproportionately targeted BIPOC communities.”

As OPB reported Portland’s local cannabis tax hasn’t been split up as voters’ intended:

When Portland voters approved a 3% tax on recreational cannabis sales in 2016, they expected the funds would benefit marijuana business owners and individuals who were negatively affected when cannabis was illegal.

report from the Portland City Auditor reveals that’s not the case. Instead, most of the collected taxes have gone toward shortages in the city’s general fund and specifically to police and transportation programs.

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Tax revenue of $3.6 million in the 2018 fiscal year and $4.6 million in 2019 primarily went toward public safety. Small business/prohibition effects received only 16% of the revenue and drug and alcohol programs received 5%.

The Portland City Council is expected to divest the local cannabis tax from the Portland Police Bureau’s budget, but as usual in the fight for civil rights, much more needs to be done. As Oregon Governor Kate Brown has called a special legislative session to deal with police accountability and the coronavirus pandemic, we can expect the issue of cannabis dollars funding law enforcement to stay in the headlines.

UPDATE: The Portland City Council did indeed cut $15 million from the police budget, including local cannabis tax dollars.