Governor Delays Plans to Address Drug Abuse in Oregon

Last week, Gov. Kate Brown indicated that plans made to address Oregon’s high rates of substance abuse may not be enacted for up to 18 months. Over a year ago, the governor signed an executive order announcing a public health crisis, and assigned the Alcohol and Drug Policy Commission to develop strategies for combating widespread drug use. Her decision to delay implementing their plan comes from a desire to approach the issue in tandem with homelessness.

Oregonians Abuse More Drugs Than Most

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 2016-17, Oregon ranks first in the country for marijuana usage and pain reliever misuse, second for methamphetamine, fourth for cocaine and alcohol use disorder, and twenty-first for heroin. Likewise, an annual report from Mental Health America which analyzes factors including substance abuse ranks Oregon second to last out of the 50 states and the District of Columbia in terms of the pervasiveness of mental illness and availability of care, only beating out Nevada.

While Brown raised over $100 million in the last legislative session to combat the crisis, under her current course of action she will not support any related legislature or increased funding in the upcoming session in February.

Recovery Advocates at Odds With Brown

Charles Boyle, a spokesman for the governor, states that “Drug and alcohol misuse, overdose, and addiction remain persistent, costly and devastating problems for Oregonians, with far-reaching impact on our children and families. Gov. Brown has taken significant steps to address this crisis.”

Mike Marshall, co-founder and director of Oregon Recovers, has a less optimistic view of her choice, saying it comes after “two years of work to move this state forward to address an unprecedented addiction crisis that has us as one of the worst states in the nation,” and that it “means more people while under her watch are going to die.”

By Brandon Urey