You’ve probably heard about the incident just over a week ago, where a man was charged with intent to distribute illegal substances after 127 pounds of fentanyl was found in his car on Route 97 from California to Oregon.
It was among one of the biggest drug busts in Oregon history, and while it’s good that the police were able to catch it before it came in, it highlights something that cannot be ignored any longer: the fentanyl crisis is real, and it’s only getting worse.
Things have been put into place, but not all of them have been a hit. Take Measure 110 for example. Many have criticized it for making the drug problem even worse, and whether or not you personally believe that to be true, it’s a fact that many are just unhappy with how the state of Oregon is handling the rampant drug problem.
In these times of struggle, we look to our lawmakers, public officials, and others in office that are meant to help us and make Oregon a safer place. While many are struggling to give perfect answers (not that there are any, as far as we can see), there are some who are still willing to talk about their views on one of the worst crises to hit Oregon in many years.
Last week, Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum spoke with many experts about the fentanyl crisis in an all-day event in Portland. It included open discussions about the scope of the crisis, what can be used to treat it, and the education of young people about the dangers of fentanyl and other such synthetic opioids. Along with this was the question of how law enforcement can address the situation while still keeping the public safe.
Rosenblum ended up speaking with Dave Miller, host of “Thinking Out Loud”, and gave her thoughts on a number of questions that people have been wanting to ask.
When asked about why she brought in so many experts from different backgrounds, she admitted that she didn’t think public officials (including her) were doing enough. They’d done so well with other policy initiatives in areas like public records, human trafficking, and internet privacy, after all. “So why not this?” she asked. “We have to do something about it because young people are dying.” She also added that she was taking a step that hadn’t been done before, saying, “I also was told that there had never been a convening where law enforcement, public safety experts were brought together with the health care, public health treatment providers and that they’re kind of in the silos of working on this subject but not bringing folks together. And that’s what we did.”
She also talked about focusing on “harm reduction”, such as making the opioid reversal medication naloxone more widely available. “ I think of it more in terms of saving lives of people who are using and who are addicted, frankly, and who are finding it extremely difficult when they are trying to get off of it.”
When it comes to the efforts of overhauling Measure 110, Rosenblum declined to comment on whether or not she supports or opposes it. What she did say, however, was that she feared losing a certain feature. “We need the funding that comes from Measure 110 to ensure that we have SUD, substance use disorder treatment. We need more of it. We need more workforce to provide it.”
She ended the interview by saying that her priorities for her last year in office were to save the lives of young people, as well as addressing the jail and prison systems, as the greatest number of overdose deaths comes from incarcerated people who have been released but aren’t given the treatment needed or the tools to survive.