2020 has been a year of unexpected outcomes to say the least and, in many respects, a cautionary tale about how small, seemingly innocuous actions can lead to undesirable, albeit, predicable results.
In 1973, Oregon was the first state to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana. In 1998, the state legalized the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes and in 2014, Oregon voters ended the state’s prohibition against the possession and use of marijuana by adults while also regulating and taxing the sales of limited quantities of pot to people 21 years of age and older.
In 2020, to no one’s great surprise given the state’s trajectory, Oregonians voted to decriminalize the use of hard drugs like cocaine, heroin, methamphetamines, oxycodone (without a prescription), opium, LSD, anabolic steroids, tranquilizers and peyote. Under measure 110, noncommercial possession of these drugs would be considered no more than a Class E violation, subject to a fine of no more than $100 or, under certain circumstances, the completion of a health assessment.
As election day approached, dissension mounted between backers of the measure and officials from the state’s treatment and recovery communities about the diverting of existing cannabis tax revenues away from schools and from a variety of mental health, treatment and prevention programs in order to set up the new “assessment and referral centers” called for by the measure.
According to an Oct. 9 opinion piece in The Register-Guard by a district attorney and the director of a community based addiction treatment program “Not only would Measure 110 essentially legalize addictive drugs, it would dismantle the only pathway to addiction recovery for many Oregon youth and adults – court diversion programs” which “motivate thousands of people to make life changes and start their journey toward a lifetime of recovery from addiction.” This statement was echoed by a statewide coalition of Oregonians who are now living in recovery.
So, what motivated 58% of the active voters in Oregon to pass this measure? Was it a wonton disregard for the welfare of their fellow human beings since life, in the eyes of some, is an expendable commodity? Was it a desire to hasten the decline of their state’s social stability and economic prosperity or were the people of Oregon simply deceived by the machinations of “Chaos-Merchant” George Soros who has long been involved in pushing for an end to the legal war on drugs and who helped form and fund the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) that was involved in helping to underwrite the effort to pass Measure 110?
According to Wikipedia (not exactly a right-leaning information source), DPA is a New York City-based nonprofit organization with the principal goal of legalizing all illicit drug use. Its formation dates back to 1992 when Soros met with its founder Ethan Nadelmann, a Princeton professor who long advocated for the legalization of heroin and cocaine, and insisted that the professor avoid discussing legalization directly but instead, according to Rolling Stone magazine, “… ‘come up with an approach that emphasizes treatment and humanitarian endeavors’… hire someone with the political savvy to sit down and negotiate with government officials, and target a few winnable issues, like medical marijuana and the repeal of mandatory minimums.” Sounds vaguely familiar, doesn’t it?
As we descend this slippery slope where once objectionable or unwise behaviors become mainstream practices and where the rule of law starts to erode, we need to ask ourselves what sort of world will our children and grandchildren inherit?
One advocate for Measure 110 observed that drug addicts are part of the fabric of our communities. Perhaps so, but that fabric is delicate and can be easily torn asunder by the weight of people whose lives have been destroyed because we were too weak or permissive to say “no” to their unreasonable demands or destructive habits.
In Nevada, with the legalization of recreational pot, we have willingly allowed the proverbial camel’s nose inside the tent. The question is, do we have the political will and moral courage to keep its body from following?
Shelly Aldean is a Carson City resident.