Oregonians agree: treatment, not punishment, is the right approach

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Ed Blackburn, Executive Director, Central City Concern (Retired)

“Oregonians for years have needed better access to addiction treatment, recovery, peer support, overdose prevention and housing—and right now, we need those services more than ever. The Drug Addiction Treatment and Recovery Act is the right approach at the right time. Please join me in supporting the campaign.”

Dr. Ximena Levander, Addiction Medicine Physician & Researcher

“I have seen firsthand how our failed drug policies and inadequate funding for addiction healthcare services have led to needless suffering. This is why I support the Drug Addiction Treatment and Recovery Act, which will decriminalize drug possession, humanely redirecting those using drugs from jails into treatment. It will also allocate needed funds to support access to evidence-based addiction services and medication, supportive housing, peer recovery mentors, and harm reduction services throughout the state including in rural regions of Oregon.”

Steve Rudman, Executive Director, Home Forward (retired)

“In these times, finding decent, affordable housing is a challenge for many households in our state. Having a criminal record for drug usage can make it much more difficult.  We clearly need more drug treatment and recovery options in our communities. The nexus of using some tax revenue from legal marijuana sales to address drug addiction as a healthcare issue makes immense sense. It’s a ‘no-brainer’. Please VOTE YES on IP 44!”

Dr. Jessica Gregg, Associate Professor of Medicine, OHSU

“As a doctor and researcher who has studied addiction, I’ve seen firsthand how treatment helps people recover and how criminal punishments can make recovery more difficult. Instead of punishing people for having substance use disorder, we should instead provide them with the help that they need.”

Jo Strom Lane, Teacher, Roosevelt High School

“Addiction is a public health crisis that this initiative addresses head on with available funding and a clear action plan. I’ve witnessed family and friends struggle with addiction. As a teacher, I see how students lack the recovery resources they need for themselves and their family members. With an evidence-based, trauma-informed approach that is culturally responsive and patient-centered, we can be supportive and proactive helping change lives for the better.”

Joe McFerrin, Executive Director, Portland Opportunities Industrialization Center (POIC) & Rosemary Anderson High School

“Treatment for addiction is the answer. Incarceration is not. For too long, people of color have been penalized and have more often than not missed out on health care solutions and treatment. This initiative means more help and support will reach black communities and lives will be improved.”

Mike Schmidt, District Attorney Elect, Multnomah County

“It’s time for a change in our public safety system so that drugs are not used as an excuse for arresting people, particularly Black and Indigenous people of color. Misguided drug laws have created deep disparities in the justice system. Arresting people with addictions is a cruel punishment because it slaps them with a lifelong criminal record that can ruin lives, exactly when they need better access to supportive services. We need to change our approach. Lowering criminal penalties for simple drug possession and providing more drug treatment and recovery services to help people move forward with their lives—these are the two pillars of IP 44. Please join me in voting yes.”

Amanda Marshall, Former US Attorney for the State of Oregon

“I spent 20 years immersed in the criminal & juvenile systems in Oregon as a prosecutor, child welfare lawyer, US Attorney and criminal defense attorney. I have witnessed first-hand the devastating failures of criminalizing, shaming and stigmatizing people who suffer from substance use disorder. As both a person in recovery and the mom of a teen in recovery, I can’t escape the truth that what separates me and my son from the people who are prosecuted for possession is our privilege. When we needed treatment, we left the state of Oregon to find it. The options we had aren’t available to most Oregonians suffering from substance use disorder. It’s time to end the insanity. Vote yes on IP44.”

Lily Nickerson, Registered Nurse, Columbia County

“Punishing people with harsh criminal penalties is counterproductive for our patients and our overall society. Moving towards a medical, health-based policy will improve the lives of Oregonians battling addiction and be a much better use of our limited resources.”

Douglas M. Nelson, Ed.D., Superintendent, Bend La Pine Schools (Retired) and Past President, Oregon School Boards Association

“Treating addiction as a healthcare issue is the right thing to do. Such an approach treats individuals with the dignity and respect we all want and expect for ourselves.  It is a value on which our nation is based. As an educator involved in public education for over 50 years, I’ve witnessed the debilitating effects of drug addiction to students, their families and staff members. It is time we thoughtfully address this insidious problem with a rational and treatment focused approach. I fully support this measure.”


Kassandra Frederique, Executive Director, Drug Policy Alliance

“Our country is in a moment of extraordinary possibility. Oregon’s IP 44 gives us the chance to re-imagine and redesign policies that have been long taken for granted as the only approach. At long last, we can give people access to treatment without arresting them, incarcerating them, or invoking threats of punishment. It’s time, it’s just, and it gives my colleagues and me a lot to believe in.”

John Hummel, District Attorney, Deschutes County

“Continuing to criminalize addiction is wrong and ineffective. In order to create safe communities, people need to feel comfortable asking for help when they need it. But when we make addiction a crime, people often feel too afraid to seek the help they need, which in turn makes our communities less safe. This initiative creates the change needed to empower those struggling with addictions to reach out for help, and ensures that when they do, help will be available.”

Babak Zolfaghari-Azar, POIC + RAHS Family Care Manager, Partnership for Safety and Justice Board Member

“As a first-generation Iranian American who has been personally impacted by the criminal justice system, I’m dedicated to fighting injustices against marginalized communities and empowering voices for change. My volunteer effort with the IP 44 campaign is one of many ways I can fight for a safer and more just country and state.”

Madeline Martinez, Grandmother, Corrections Officer (retired)

“Our current drug laws are clearly ineffective and disproportionately harm people of color and all people struggling with poverty. Instead of arresting and imprisoning nonviolent citizens with addiction problems, we will see better results by providing treatment on demand.”

Brent Canode, MPA, Executive Director, The Alano Club of Portland

“As a person in long-term recovery, a national recovery research professional, and Executive Director of the largest recovery center in the U.S., I’ve seen firsthand the crushing consequences of criminalizing drug addiction. Recovery is best achieved when grounded in autonomy, love, compassion and respect. We need more treatment and recovery services made available on-demand, when people want them. IP 44 is the most innovative and hopeful solution I’ve seen in my 16 years working in the recovery field in Oregon.”

Kayse Jama, Executive Director, Unite Oregon

“Oregonians believe that our public safety system should be equitable and just for all communities. However, in Oregon and throughout the US, people of color, immigrants, and refugees face discrimination at every stage of the process, especially when it comes to drugs. That’s wrong and reprehensible. Decriminalizing drug possession and expanding access to treatment will help reduce the racial disparities in our criminal justice system, and help all Oregonians who suffer from addiction. We support Initiative Petition 44, because it’s a key step toward achieving racial justice within our public safety system.”

Serena Cruz, Executive Director, Virginia Garcia Memorial Foundation

“Recovery makes families possible. Growing up, my father struggled with alcoholism, it tore apart our family and his recovery brought us closer. Every family in Oregon deserves access to the tools and support that they need to stay sober and thrive.

Treatment makes financial sense. In my time at Multnomah County, we knew that treatment cost a fraction of incarceration and came with numerous other benefits. That’s even more true today, as families struggle to stabilize their housing, keep food on their tables and support their children’s educational success – treatment means that they get to keep their jobs and maintain their family ties – all of that leads to healthier, happier and more successful families.

Reclassifying drug possession offenses is a critical step toward racial justice and equity. If we don’t take the steps to challenge the ways that people enter the criminal justice system, racial and ethnic injustice will continue to occur. Making this small and rational change will have tremendous positive ripple effects in our system; it simply makes sense to stop treating possession as a crime and instead to treat the addiction that caused it.”

Neil Franklin, Retired police major and current executive director of Law Enforcement Action Partnership (LEAP).

“As a 34-year police veteran who oversaw 17 drug task forces, I understand that existing drug laws have worsened nearly every problem associated with drug use. I wholeheartedly endorse IP 44. This initiative will end thousands of senseless drug arrests that hinder people for the rest of their lives while funding much-needed recovery programs. Take it from a retired narcotics officer: Arrests and incarceration do not deter drug use. It’s time to get law enforcement out of the equation and let our public health experts show us the way.”

Sonja Freeman, Peer Recovery Mentor

“I had a lot of trauma in my childhood and was in foster care. I got involved with drugs and alcohol when I was 14. As a result of my addiction, I had trouble with the law. When I finally got into good, consistent treatment, along with a mentor and therapy, I was able to turn things around. But because of my criminal record I lost apartments and couldn’t get the jobs that I wanted, including working with kids or the elderly. What people need in order to turn their lives around is not arrest, but consistent, culturally competent treatment, including residential treatment, therapy and job training skills. With this ballot initiative, making comprehensive treatment available and instead of arresting people, crime and addiction would go down, and people would be able to move on with their lives.”

Gregory Anthony Brown, Veteran, Peer Support Specialist

“I was arrested for possession more than once, but never had an opportunity to go to treatment. Given a chance at treatment – like IP 44 will help provide – I would have gone. I have heard people say, I can’t go to treatment until I go to jail. How does that sound? Some care organizations don’t pay for it. It used to be you could go to places like Hooper, and they would get assessed, but not anymore. People need to be given an opportunity to get into treatment before going to jail.”

Sonja Mckenzie, Co-Chair, Parkrose School Board

“I support IP 44 because there needs to be a more health-centered, restorative solution to support Oregonians recovering from drug addiction. The disproportionate rates of incarceration among people of color with low level drug arrests have resulted in a vicious cycle of hardship and barriers to recovery impacting the ability to create a future for their families. I believe that IP 44 is a real step forward in providing adequate funding for compassionate, trauma informed drug addiction treatment so that Oregonians can thrive.”

Anthony Medina, Woodburn School Board, OSBA Board Members of Color Caucus

“I support IP 44 because Oregonians deserve a drug treatment system that is evidence-based, trauma-informed, culturally-responsive, and patient centered. Relying on the criminal justice system to address addiction wastes taxpayer dollars, creates a toxic relationship between the police and the communities they serve, and does nothing to tackle problematic drug use. Please join your fellow Oregonians in supporting this measure.”

Carmen Rubio, Executive Director, Latino Network and Portland City Commissioner Elect

“People struggling with addiction need better access to treatment, not criminal punishments that can break families apart and ruin lives. Let’s win a more humane and effective approach to drugs in Oregon.”

Richard Harris, Founder, Central City Concern & Director, Mental Health and Addiction for the State of Oregon (retired)

“Criminalizing personal drug use as part of the 50+ year war on drugs has been a profound failure that has ruined countless lives. It is time to change to a healthcare approach to solving addiction problems. We know providing the right services at the right time without barriers is essential to successful recovery from addictive drug use. Paying for the services as outlined in IP44 will effectively provide treatment on-demand to those struggling with drug addiction.”

Rachel Seidelman, Registered Nurse

“As a registered nurse in Oregon, I see firsthand the harm that our current drug policy inflicts on patients. The status quo isn’t working and people are suffering and dying. We need a more humane, health-centered approach. That’s why I wholeheartedly support IP 44.”

Anna Rhodes, 5th Grade Teacher, Lynch Elementary, Redmond

“When you walk into a classroom today, you will see sensory tools, collaborative spaces, flexible seating, restorative justice circles, collaborative problem solving, constant reflection and several more research based strategies for trauma informed care that teachers have taken it upon themselves to understand. All for one simple reason: students carry in every bit of weight that their families carry. And they cannot learn when their mind is consumed with the health and well-being of the ones they love and idolize the most. Some may think that as a 5th grade teacher, I am least likely to deal with drug use in the classroom, it is the exact opposite. I see the most of it, because I see it affect the way they learn, interact with others and ultimately view their possibilities in our system. A system, that they seldom see work for their loved ones. IP 44 will support our students with a justice system that is here to serve them and their families.”

Dr. Andy Seaman, MD, Drug Addiction Medicine Researcher, Healthcare for the Homeless Clinician

“Drug overdose now kills more people under 50 than anything else, and yet we continue to double down on decades of failed drug war policies. Criminalizing people who use drugs has only added fuel to the engine driving the overdose crisis while doing nothing to slow harmful drug use. By incarcerating people who use drugs for simple use, we tear apart communities, foster use in less safe environments, and prevent people from attaining security and employment that is linked with less risky use. Oregon, let’s replace incarceration with funding for evidence-based treatment and support. There is a better way.”

Kris Olson, US Attorney for the State of Oregon (retired)

“As a federal prosecutor, I saw how criminal punishments can make it harder for people to get back on their feet when they are struggling with addiction. Criminal punishments can hold people back from getting jobs, housing, professional licenses and more. Instead of putting so many people behind bars, we need to make prevention, treatment, recovery and harm reduction much more available.”

Hubert Mathews, Central City Concern LEAD Program and Miracles Club

“I have worked in the fields of mental health and addiction for years, and I know that getting arrested is not a way into recovery. It doesn’t break the cycle for people because of the challenges that they face once they have a criminal record. As a Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) case manager, I can ask people if they are interested in treatment, and we do an assessment. That is what the Drug Addiction Treatment and Recovery Act would do, and it is important that the assessment will be trauma-informed and address the issues that face people who are addicted and have a criminal record. This treatment and recovery services funded by this initiative will provide Oregon with more tools to effectively deal with our addiction crisis. “

Rabbi Debra Kolodny, Portland's UnShul/As the Spirit Moves Us

“I support the IP 44 because those suffering with addiction are in need of healing, not imprisonment. This brilliant measure has a ready made income source, and it will eliminate the expense of incarcerating those who should not be in jail in the first place. We need to pass the initiative and ever more integrated solutions like it if we want to achieve our vision of building a just, equitable and compassionate society.”

Scott Perry, Superintendent, Southern Oregon Education Service District (Retired)

“Having spent my entire 38 year career as an educator in Oregon’s public schools, I have worked with so many children and young people whose education, and ultimately life opportunities were negatively impacted, if not destroyed by drug and/or alcohol addiction and the failure of our system to provide appropriate treatment. Therefore, I strongly support the passage of the Drug Addiction and Recovery Act. I see addiction issues as key barriers to child and family resilience and I believe this legislation has significant promise.”

Steve Naganuma, Radio Broadcasting Instructor, Benson Polytechnic High School

“It is my belief that you can not fix the homeless crisis without addressing drug addiction. People with substance use disorder need help, not harsh penalties. IP44 will expand drug treatment and recovery services including stabilizing and transitional housing.”

Bridgett Bassett, Registered Nurse, In Recovery

“Drug charges keep individuals from gaining employment, housing, student loans…the list is endless. Decades of trying to punish our way out of this epidemic has failed the community and failed the people suffering from substance use.”

Donell Morgan, Executive Director, Elevate Oregon and Parkrose High School Varsity Basketball Coach

“As an African American male who has dedicated my career to empowering at-risk youth towards success, I have seen the tragic effect that incarceration has on families of color in Oregon. The disparate sentencing and lifelong stigma meted out to our community because of existing drug laws creates insurmountable barriers to achievement for students and families who already face multiple risk factors. 

Our current system must change. Let’s address drug crimes as the public health problem that they truly are, rather than as part of the pipeline to prison. As I seek to develop the next generation of leaders that will transform communities, I support the Drug Addiction Treatment and Recovery Act wholeheartedly. It offers a sensible, equitable and economical path forward for Oregon.”

Gillian Herrera, Youth Educator and Indigenous Activist

“As a mixed-race indigenous woman, I have seen firsthand how the disparity in incarceration affects communities of color. People of color are disproportionately incarcerated for non-violent drug-related offenses; some of them have been imprisoned for decades and remain so even now that legalization has occurred in many states. When people of color are incarcerated indiscriminately rather than rehabilitated, justice is not served. Instead, we uphold the racist system that fails to provide for their needs and punishes them for that failure. Children lose their parents, communities lose their members, and people of color continue to exist in subjugation and fear in a country built off their blood and sweat. In a city like Portland, where white people own the majority of marijuana dispensaries while people of color remain incarcerated for marijuana-related offenses, we need programs to prevent this from happening. Diverting marijuana tax dollars toward social programs is a fitting way to begin correcting this. Decriminalizing personal drug possession is another important step, especially for indigenous people whose spiritual rites can include consumption of controlled substances. Initiative proposal 44 would make these measures a reality. This is an important step in ensuring that the vicious cycle of white supremacy and incarceration in this city is eradicated.”

Michael Ralls, Director of Social Services, No. Clackamas School District

“Oregon ranks at the bottom of all 50 states in the amount we invest in drug addiction treatment and recovery services — and we are near the bottom in mental health resources. As the Director of Social Services for the North Clackamas School District, I’m aware of the direct impacts this has on our students and their families. I’m excited that this measure will make more drug addiction treatment and recovery services available to our families and community.”

Virginia Camberos, Rogue Valley Regional Director, Unite Oregon

“As a community organizer, I have seen people struggling, and trying to build a better life. I have helped people get to their treatment, but we need more access, and there have to be people on the ground who can connect with people. This Initiative could fund positions, like peer support specialists who can make that connection. We as neighbors need to help each other, instead of judging. People are hungry for this. Instead of arresting people with addiction, we could meet their need for treatment.”

Dr. Brad Anderson, Addiction Medicine Physician

“As an addiction medicine physician with 25 years of experience in the field, I support IP 44, which aims to provide a much needed increase in funding for the treatment of this medical condition. Addiction treatment saves lives, families, careers, communities and money and increases health and joy. Oregon and Oregonians deserve a healthier and more joyful future.”

Dr. Adie Rae, Neuroscientist

“As a scientist who has studied drug abuse for 15 years, I have followed the results of drug decriminalization in Canada, Scandinavia, and Portugal very closely. The evidence supporting decriminalization is compelling, and IP 44 provides sensible, evidence-based, and critical policy reform that the citizens of Oregon desperately need.”

Michael Zhang, Rural Oregon Expungement Lawyer

“We need to address the root cause of our addiction crisis and the disparities in our criminal justice system. Let’s stop punishing people for struggling with addiction and pass something to fund drug treatment and recovery services.”

Mark Gamba, Mayor of Milwaukie

“The War on drugs was created to feed the prison industrial complex and to keep people of color down. It was never meant to solve the problems that lead to drug abuse. Treatment rather than incarceration is an excellent first step in reversing this racist policy. It is far less expensive to treat drug abuse than to incarcerate people for it. It also will not have the ongoing trauma caused by having a drug conviction on your record.”

Lorenzo Johnson, Recovery Peer Mentor, Drug Counselor

“I know from my own personal experience the importance of getting into treatment as soon as possible. After my family’s first intervention, I went through detox, but I didn’t make it through the ten day wait until a spot opened up in a facility. I did manage to get clean after a second intervention and am now in the 30th year of my recovery. I’m one of the fortunate ones. Today, I am honored to help people who are seeking help to beat their addiction, but it is heartbreaking having to tell people that they must wait 4, 5, or even six weeks before they can enter a treatment program. Too often, you can see the hope leave their faces. Oregon needs treatment and recovery services on demand and the Drug Addiction Treatment and Recovery Act is a great step in the right direction.”

Diane Linn, Former Multnomah County Chair and Executive Director, Proud Ground

“This measure falls squarely on the agenda of critical steps in the right direction of fairness and justice, and better public health and public safety. At Multnomah County and Ritter Center in Marin County California, a homeless services non-profit, I saw the damage done by the punitive approach to addictions.  Treatment has resulted in a new lease on life for so many in our communities. Now I direct an organization that provides homeownership opportunities primarily for communities of color who have been unfairly penalized in the past. We see the positive impact of treatment and recovery in the home buyer process where families, especially with children, can really thrive. Please support this important measure.”

Elona Dellabough-Gormley, Registered Nurse, Harm Reductionist

“A punitive reaction to drug use is a threat to people’s lives. This ballot initiative allows us to respond to our friends and neighbors with the care and compassion all people need to thrive. Ultimately, as we have seen in other examples of decriminalization, this approach improves outcomes for everyone. We have the tools to support people in healing.”

Bobby Byrd, Father and Grandfather

“I pay taxes and I have worked all my life – yet I am still considered a criminal for a drug offense that happened over 26 years ago. It has kept me from succeeding and being all I can be: a better role model for my kids and grandkids, and for them to know that the man they love can have a solid, productive life.”

Patty Katz, Co-founder, Hands Across the Bridge

“I struggled with addiction beginning when I was a teenager. Getting arrested for it, again and again, only made it worse. What we need is more treatment and recovery, because that’s what works—and it’s what this initiative does.”

Michael Gilbert, Epidemiologist

“Criminalization of drugs stands in the way of scientific understanding and evidence-based policy. Decriminalization gives us a pathway towards building trust, understanding, and knowledge that will benefit all Oregonians.”

Erin Delong, Public Health Student

“My family has been heavily impacted by addiction and incarceration. It is obvious that stigmatization and harsh criminal policies only compound the problem. The pragmatic and human solution is to implement programs that focus on treatment and reintegration.”

Antoinette Edwards, Director, Portland Office of Youth Violence Prevention (retired)

“We need to keep humanity at the center of all that we do. For too long we have approached drug addiction as a law enforcement issue rather than a public health issue. Arresting people with addictions is cruel and inhumane, and continues to disproportionately target our Black, Indigenous, and LGBTQ community members. It is long overdue that we refrain and reimagine our approach to drug use. This measure provides hope, healing, and restorative justice. Please join me in supporting IP 44.”

David Mee, Medford Resident

“I began drinking and using drugs when I was a teenager, working in a restaurant. At some point I stopped, but then started again. I have been sober for years, since I went to treatment and haven’t looked back. You are not solving anything by jailing people. It is always better to have choices.”

Gaye Chapman, Health Teacher, Cleveland High School, Portland

“As a high school health educator for over 16 years in Oregon, I strongly believe that young people who struggle with addiction need compassionate care and assistance, not suspensions and expulsions.  I have seen firsthand the effects of not having enough resources and assistance for young people who are struggling with mental health, childhood trauma, and addiction. It is past time Oregon steps up and provides equitable care and services where compassion replaces stigmatization and criminalization.  That is why I support IP 44.”

Pete Tutmark, Sergeant, Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office (retired)

“Looking back on my 33 year career in Oregon law enforcement, I believe the criminal/punishment model for addressing drug addiction has failed. This is a public health crisis and should be treated as such. Nobody wins when police spend our days punishing people for drug possession. Every person we arrest for drugs is one more person who refuses to talk to us when we’re questioning witnesses and gathering clues. Our drug laws make police work harder and communities less safe.”

Dr. Todd Korthius, Addiction Medicine Specialist

“The Drug Addiction Treatment and Recovery Act saves lives by decreasing barriers to treatment and recovery in Oregon. The Act aligns Oregon with best practices for addiction treatment and policy.”

Monica Zeigler, Elementary Special Educator, based in Newport

“As a former teacher, I’ve witnessed how trauma from addiction places enormous strains on a family. Imprisoning parents deepens the damage felt by children, who need stability in their lives the most. As a parent and educator, I want all people to live in a world where seeking treatment for drug or alcohol problems is met with compassion and not fear. Our current treatment and recovery services are lacking and we need services which are on demand, when people are ready to get help. By stigmatizing people with criminalization and then underfunding drug treatment programs, loved ones who are suffering through addiction are facing too many barriers. The Drug Addiction Treatment and Recovery Act will put Oregon on a more humane and compassionate path to dealing with our addiction crisis.”

Kelsey C. Priest, PhD, MPh, Opioid Treatment and Policy Researcher

“As a public health researcher and future addiction physician, I support the Drug Addiction Treatment and Recovery Act because punishment and prohibition are not evidence-informed or humane approaches for addiction treatment. People who use drugs and those with substance use disorders should instead have easy access to 21st century treatment and recovery interventions. Oregon ranks 50th in the nation in addiction treatment access; we can and must do better!”

Sarah Lawson, Teacher, Forest Grove School District

“As both a teacher and a volunteer working with people experiencing homelessness, I have heard from people of all walks of life that the biggest barrier they have had in ending addiction is the lack of access to treatment options. The perseverance needed to find and access treatment is a huge hurdle for a person without a support system and in the throes of addiction. For one of my teaching colleagues, finding treatment for his son meant a significant amount of time, money, and travel to another part of the state of Oregon just to find an open bed. What families need is addiction support that includes a needs assessment, connection to services, and peer support for a successful transformation. Our students are not unaffected. They also need families with stable housing and support while family members receive treatment. I believe this initiative will effectively reduce substance abuse, lower Oregon’s rate of criminalization of what is a health issue, bring a team of expertise to the table, and thereby help to create more equitable opportunities for all Oregonians.”

Leslie Corlis, MPH, Health Care Program Manager

“The Drug Addiction Treatment and Recovery Act represents an important step forward in how substance use could be managed in Oregon through decriminalization and evidence-based care. Criminalizing addiction is de-stabilizing, with disproportionate impacts on already marginalized and targeted communities, directly contributing to preventable deaths and needless suffering. This measure will provide the resources to eliminate or mitigate that suffering and leverage the existing skill, knowledge and desire of many within the state to care for our community.”

Lorna Fast Buffalo Horse, Director of Multiple Pathways to Graduation, Portland Public Schools

“As a long-time Oregon teacher and school administrator, I have seen the devastating impacts of zero tolerance for drug use on youth. This measure is a sincere effort to acknowledge substance abuse and addiction as public health problems, rather than criminality. Please join me in supporting this effort to move Oregon further away from the school to prison pipeline.”

Rabbi Michael Cahana, Temple Beth Israel

“Drug addiction is a serious health problem in our community. It destroys lives and families. But criminalization has proven to be a terrible tool to save those afflicted. It is discriminatory and furthers the cycle of family separation. I support IP 44 because treatment and recovery are the paths to overcoming addiction.”

Samantha Taylor, Mother, Student Studying Social Work/Social Justice

“We know people who use drugs are more exposed to violence and trauma. That’s often part of the reason they use drugs, and they can get trapped in a cycle. I’ve lived through it, been homeless, been arrested, been held at gunpoint, been exposed to domestic violence, been in that cycle. To recover, I needed more options and a safe place. This initiative provides a lot more funding for such services, which will make it easier for people like me to recover.”

Sahaan McKelvey, Director of Restoration and Identification, Self Enhancement, Inc.

“As a life-long community servant I try to live by the motto that; ‘My only goal is to help you reach yours!’ As a current non-profit executive; there is nothing more important to me than empowering my community members through love, support, and enhancement so that we are all able to thrive on our own terms. This measure is a step in the right direction to truly empower our community members who have struggled with addiction. If we really want to see our people be successful and thrive; then we need to support this initiative!”

Morgan Godvin, Veteran, PSU Public Health Student

“I support the Drug Treatment and Recovery Act because during my addiction I suffered repeated incarcerations for possession and overdosed many times. A public health problem should be addressed with a public health solution. Everyone deserves access to drug treatment. In Oregon, we can save lives.”

Matthew Ellis, District Attorney Elect, Wasco County

“Addiction can’t be solved by throwing people in jail. Punishing people for drug use is ineffective and cruel. This measure removes unfairly harsh punishments for minor, nonviolent drug offenses, and provides people with addictions the services they need to recover and get their lives back on track. By connecting people with treatment and recovery services, we’re offering them hope and giving them the tools to correct their course in life. I urge all Oregonians to vote yes on this initiative.”

Haven Wheelock, MPH, Director of Harm Reduction, OutsideIn

“We can’t afford to wait any longer. I have seen far too many friends and loved ones die because Oregon lacks adequate treatment, prevention, harm reduction and education services. It’s time we had a more humane, health-based approach to addressing addiction.”

Caroline King, Medical Student, OHSU

“I support the Drug Addiction Treatment and Recovery Act because the current system disproportionately harms people of color and low-income members of our community. This Act is a needed step towards rectifying this wrong, and can help create healthier communities for us all.”

Janie Gullickson, Executive Director, Mental Health & Addiction Association of Oregon

“I was addicted to methamphetamine for 22 years and was in and out of jail, in and out of jail, again and again. Because of my criminal record and my addiction, I struggled to get housing and a job and to be treated with dignity and respect. If I had been able to get access to treatment and recovery sooner, it would have made a world of difference. But treatment only works when you are able to get it, which is why it should be available on demand, for everyone who needs it. Unfortunately, Oregon ranks nearly last in access to treatment. This initiative is our chance to change that. Let’s establish a humane, health based approach to addressing drug addiction in Oregon.”

Bill Graupp, Vice Chair, North Marion School District and Board Representative, Oregon School Board Members of Color Caucus

“Treatment is needed not just for the individual with the addiction, but for the family and thus the community.  Insecurity for a child due to family neglect or abuse is a serious factor in a student’s inability to learn at school.  A parent or older sibling suffering from drug abuse can be the major contributor to student insecurity. If the parent is removed from the child’s life due to drug conviction, the situation only gets worse.  If treatment is not made available to the family, the child suffers.  This child cannot engage in a proper educational environment.  The path forward is to make drug addiction treatment available to the family to secure the most benefit for the future of the community — its children.”

Judge Judith Matarazzo, Multnomah County Circuit Court

“We must decriminalize drug possession and reinvest in our treatment options. Our tax dollars will be better spent addressing underlying problems to prevent further criminality.”

Dennis Morrow, Executive Director, Janus Youth Programs

“I have provided drug treatment and training since 1973 working with literal thousands of clients and counselors. I know that treatment works because I have seen it firsthand for over 40 years. I currently work at one of the largest homeless youth-serving organizations in Oregon, and we know that high levels of drug use is one of the two major issues preventing youth from engaging in services that can get them off the streets. Saving one youth from adult homelessness ultimately saves the community over $3 million in lifetime services. I do not know of a better investment we can all make than to pass this initiative.”

Carla Gay, MSW, Executive Director, Innovation and Partnership, Gresham-Barlow School District

“My personal story of growing up with a family member who struggled with addiction inspired me to address addiction in my professional life. As a school social worker and administrator, I have seen the disproportionate impact of lack of adequate access to drug and alcohol treatment on students of color. Our students who struggle with addiction have also often experienced multiple other systemic social and economic barriers to their success. By investing in adequate treatment options, we can help our students begin to address some of the underlying conditions which lead to addiction. Affordable and accessible treatment options are key pieces to solving the puzzle of systemic oppression.”

Lisa Gettig, First Grade Teacher, Salem-Keizer School District (retired)

“As a retired teacher, mother, and daughter of a psychiatrist who was head of the Drug and Alcohol Council for years, I have seen first hand how the effects of addiction can impact lives young and old. I fully support IP44 for the fact that it enables some of the marijuana tax money to be put toward expanding addiction and recovery services to help people and families get their lives back on track.”


Nate Macy, Pastor, Yamhill County

“Our communities need to work towards justice and the end of systemic oppression. Providing people with addictions with compassion and care is one way we can work towards that, and build stronger communities. This initiative gives pragmatic tools to help make that compassionate care accessible to more people.”

Kahlia Ventura, Inpatient Treatment Supervisor

“Continuing to treat addiction criminally is classically perpetuating the belief that addiction is a moral issue rather than a health issue. Being in jail, rather than receiving help for underlying issues, invalidates that someone struggling with addiction is a person in need of help, rather than just a criminal. Receiving help over charges will give people hope.”

Virginia Connell, Nurse Educator and Trauma RN

“As a Trauma RN, I have seen firsthand the devastating effects of drug addiction on the health and resources of Oregonians. Treatment and recovery services in our state are often not available, even when a person is actively seeking recovery. Evidence-based research shows us that a healthcare approach, rather than a criminalizing approach, to drug addiction is highly effective. I fully support IP 44, knowing that it will make a positive difference in our communities.”

Dr. Rebecca Cantone, Physician, Founding Medical Director of an Outpatient Treatment Program

“Medical professionals see firsthand the devastation addiction is having on our society, and that the status quo isn’t working. By moving towards a more humane policy based on science, we’ll be able to tackle the inadequate care provided in our country. We cannot expect improvement without the resources for treatment, or without letting go of the terrible stigma associated with drug addiction and the criminal justice system. I am training students every day to change this stigma and we must see the healthcare and legal systems change too.”

GG Johnson, Student, Bend High School

“As a part of the next generation of voters, workers and part of our community, I am glad to endorse IP 44 because it helps to expand treatment and normalize obtaining help. If anyone is left behind, it is impossible to move forward together. Criminalizing addiction inhibits recovery and progress for the individual and all of society. IP 44 will de-stigmatize receiving help for addiction and will make our community stronger.”



Tony Lai, Licensed Professional Counselor, McMinnville

As a child and adolescent therapist in rural Oregon, I have seen firsthand the devastation addiction causes to children and families. I support the Drug Addiction Treatment and Recovery Act because it increases access, reduces barriers, and provides lifelines to those in need of treatment. Kids in Oregon deserve a compassionate system to help their love ones get the treatment they need.”



Emily Fanjoy, Health Programs Coordinator, Tides of Change, Tillamook

“Substance use disorders are often an indicator that a person has experienced trauma, sometimes multiple and complex trauma in their lives. Many people, including professionals, are unaware of the strong correlation between experiencing intimate partner and/or sexual violence and experiencing a substance use disorder, including the ways that people using violence are able to maintain power and control through tactics like substance use coercion and sobriety sabotage. Punitive responses to substance use further isolates and harms individuals and families who have experienced trauma and abuse. Accessible, compassionate, research-based treatment is a necessary part of a path to long term recovery for healing and for improved health outcomes.”

Paul Steigleder, Deputy Sheriff, Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office (retired)

“After three decades working in law enforcement, I can tell you that criminalizing addiction does not build stronger communities. People struggling with addictions are afraid to ask for help, for fear of being arrested. They go into hiding where they are more likely to overdose. We need to create an environment where people struggling with addictions know they can ask for help without fear, one where they look to police as community advocates who will connect them with resources and services to access the help they need.”

J. Ashlee Albies, Civil Rights Attorney

“It is beyond debate that the criminal legal system disproportionately impacts people of color. Despite no disparity in drug use between white and black people, black people are more likely to be stopped, questioned, arrested, prosecuted, convicted, spend more time in jail, and be arrested again for drug-related offenses. This racist cycle disrupts families, costs taxpayer money, and ruins lives. If we ever hope to achieve a world where all people can live up to their potential, we need to end these harmful practices. Equity requires a different approach. Research shows that addiction is more effectively treated with health services than with criminal punishments. We can replace unnecessary and unproductive criminal penalties with culturally-informed treatment services and support through recovery, and in so doing, we can decrease mass incarceration and increase public safety. We can take a humane and equitable approach to create a more just world.”

Clark Miller, LCSW, CADC III, Researcher and Psychotherapist, Manzanita

“Oregonians and Americans are increasingly trapped in substance use epidemics worsening over decades of widening social justice, healthcare and economic inequities, the systems they depend on for help remaining ineffective and without evidence of capacity for meaningful change in treatment approaches, even in crisis. More than anything, the Oregon citizens’ Initiative Petition 44 collectively demands change in response to worsening, lethal, public health crises. IP 44 recognizes that as Oregonians standing together for our future, we can no longer continue to risk and allow failure to change.”

Rev. Tara Wilkins, Pastor, Bridgeport United Church of Christ

“I believe that we have a responsibility to care for those on the margins, that includes people who are addicted to drugs. Instead of punishing and judging, we should provide people who are addicted to drugs with the love, respect, treatment and support they need to recover and heal. That’s why I support this initiative.”

Tom DeJardin, Executive Director, Mt. Scott Learning Center

“Recovery center options for teens – especially those struggling with economic inequality – are very difficult to access. This often means teens (and adults) are funneled into the courts, jail and prison system where resources are even more scarce. Expanding options for services, support, inpatient and outpatient are paramount in the fight against addiction issues. Putting the focus on treatment and recovery ensures that young people, and anyone struggling with substance abuse, aren’t criminalized and denied the opportunity to grow, thrive, and contribute positively to our community.”

Hakon Khajavei, Chief Marketing Officer, Blackline Collective

“A community should lift up its members in need, not punish them for their struggles. The people of Oregon are kind, caring, and compassionate, and we can live up to our values by supporting this measure. This measure can help solve the addiction crisis that has already impacted too many of our friends, neighbors, and loved ones. A village should come together and support its most vulnerable members in crisis. Let’s be that village.”

Dr. Rita Sullivan, Clinical Psychologist, Medford

“We all agree that the right thing to do is to invest in our children. There is no better investment in them than to treat their parent’s addictions in order to break the intergenerational cycle of abuse and to give them the nurturing and loving childhoods they deserve. Incarcerating parents and separating them from their children only adds more trauma to already traumatized children and their parents do not emerge as better parents. Let’s build our state’s treatment capacity, especially in those programs that are family focused. There is absolutely no better way to invest our dollars in terms of both economic and human costs.”

Mary Krogh, LCSW LSSW, PPS District Coordinator of Substance Use Supports

“I have been a school social worker for over 20 years and I have seen firsthand the devastating impact that substance abuse can have students and families. This measure will give Oregon a real and sustainable way to support adolescents and adults who are struggling with addiction. Currently, our state ranks at the bottom in terms of funding treatment.  We have an opportunity to change that.  By increasing treatment availability, we move from a model that has relied on incarceration and the criminal justice system to one that treats addiction for what it is – a health issue.  These are important and tangible steps towards equity, social justice and wellness for Oregon and that is why I am supporting IP 44.”

Kathy McCollum, Director, Alternative Learning Options, High Desert Education Service District

“As an educator with more than 45 years experience in the public school system, I have seen the devastating effects that alcohol and drug abuse has had on students and families. I strongly believe that alcohol and drug addiction is a health issue and should be treated as such. This measure provides a much-needed social and financial solution to this health challenge that impacts so many Oregonians.”


Rev. Connie Yost, President, Farm Worker Ministries Northwest

“As a people of faith, Unitarian Universalists believe in the inherent worth and dignity of every person.  People struggling with drug addiction should be treated with compassion and care, not criminalization.  It is our shame that Oregon ranks last out of all the states in the availability of treatment and recovery services.  We can and must do much much better than that by passing IP44 which I support because it will provide critically needed funding for treatment, recovery, harm reduction and sober housing services in Oregon.”

Sergio Gutierrez, Certified Addiction Counselor, Polk County Addiction Services

“Addiction is a health issue, so let’s facilitate ways to treat it instead of incarcerating, stigmatizing, and condemning the person who suffers from it.”


Watt Childress, Owner, Jupiter’s Books, Cannon Beach

“Our response to drug addiction should address the root problem, not cause more harm. Smart use of resources means improving treatment services as an alternative to imprisonment. I believe by viewing addiction from a healthcare perspective, IP44 will benefit individuals and communities throughout Oregon.”

Beverly Stein, Former Multnomah County Chair

“Investing in addiction treatment services and making them widely accessible reduces the human and financial costs of the criminal justice system, child welfare and health care. IP 44 would make a big difference to our communities and for the people who suffer from addiction. I urge you to vote for IP44.”


Claudia Little BSN, MPH, MomsUnited; A New PATH (Parents for Addiction Treatment and Healing)

“As a mother, a retired nurse practitioner, and advocate for more sensible drug policies I am amazed that our increasing understanding of addiction and treatment has not evolved. It is clear that locking someone up only to be released without access to treatment resources isn’t working. Addiction can be a relapsing problem but if our answer to that relapse is to again incarcerate, the vicious cycle continues. Law enforcement’s answer is more jail space. But, larger facilities only make it possible to arrest more people. IP 44 will give our communities an alternative to jail for drug related offenses and the help to live a productive life without substance abuse.”

Randy Heath, Randy Heath, Educator Grant High School

“As an educator for 32 years, I have seen the devastation addiction can cause to individuals, families and the broader community. IP 44 is a humane response to the public health crisis we face with addiction. A plan that focuses on treatment and healing rather than punishment. An opportunity to change current practices that center on shame and guilt to solutions based on compassion and dignity.”

Dan Harold, Dan Harold, LCSW, CADC I Adjunct Professor, Portland State University

“This is a common sense measure. The War on Drugs is not working. IP 44 presents an alternative path forward during a time when substance use is on the rise. The stress of the COVID-19 pandemic is a clear example of the connection between stress and addictive behavior. Rather than punish and blame individual Oregonians, let’s all stand together as a state in favor of public health.  Addiction is a public health issue — not an individual’s failing.”

Amélie Rousseau, MSN Teacher, St. Helens High School

“The war on drugs needs to end. It’s time to wage war against our true enemies: addiction and mass incarceration. As a public school teacher, many of my students and their families struggle with addiction without the necessary supports they need to heal. This measure is a transformative step forward in taking care of Oregonians who need it most.”

Korinna Wolfe, Korinna Wolfe, MSW, M.ED, Area Senior Director, Multiple Pathways to Graduation, Portland Public Schools

“As we continue the work of building strong communities, founded on care and compassion for all, we must center healing. Being present for one another, providing addiction treatment services in our state, supports the work of school communities to promote authentic student and family engagement, a vital component to increasing student achievement throughout Oregon.”

Has addiction touched your life? We want to listen.

Addiction impacts everyone.