In prison six years later, Gullickson was contemplating joining an intensive recovery program when a “striking, magnetic gorgeous Black woman walked in the room, held up a mug shot and started talking about being in the very chairs where we were sitting,” Gullickson remembers. There was life on the other side of addiction and prison, the woman said. But you have to fight for it. Gullickson believed her.
“I remember thinking, I may not be able to do all that, be what she was, but maybe I could do something different than this,” Gullickson says. “That day, I felt the door open to change and healing.”
Now Gullickson, the executive director of the Mental Health & Addiction Association of Oregon, is determined to give other addicts the same opportunity. That’s why she pushed for the passage of Measure 110,first-of-its-kind legislation that decriminalizes the possession of all illegal drugs in Oregon, including heroin, cocaine, meth and oxycodone. Instead of a criminal justice-based approach, the state will pivot to a health care-based approach, offering addicts treatment instead of prison time. Those in possession will be fined $100, a citation that will be dropped if they agree to treatment.
The law goes into effect Monday and will be implemented over the next decade by the state officials at the Oregon Health Authority.
Advocates say the pivot will be life-changing for thousands of Oregonians.
“One of the things people misunderstand is how criminalization creates barriers to treatment,” says Kassandra Frederique, the executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, a national nonprofit dedicated to legalizing illicit drug use. “If we want people to make different choices, we have to give them more options ... ending criminalization will do leaps and bounds around ending shame, which automatically opens people up for other opportunities.”
To read more of Lindsay Schnell's article, click here, Oregon law to decriminalize all drugs goes into effect, offering addicts rehab instead of prison (msn.com)