Drug War 2.0
Hogan Administration Amps Up Effort to Combat Opioid Addiction
Not since the 1990s has government leadership vowed so broadly that a gauntlet had to be thrown down and war declared on drug trafficking. With the opioid epidemic, war has been declared again and Maryland leaders are armoring up.
The governor’s office is taking the fight against heroin and opioid addiction straight to the source with a planned lawsuit against select drug companies. The recently announced action is part of a broader effort to confront the crisis that affects so many across the state.
Gov. Larry Hogan said all proceeds from the suit will be used for opioid treatment, prevention, and education programs.
“As the first governor in the country to declare a true state of emergency in response to the opioid epidemic, I am committed to doing everything in our power to bring those responsible for this scourge to justice and prevent future victims,” said Hogan in a statement.
Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford addressed the opioid issue as it pertains to Prince George’s County at a meeting of the Greater Prince George’s Business Roundtable in January.
The Hogan-Rutherford Administration also listed the possibility of turning the former Baltimore City Men’s Detention Center into a therapeutic detention site to offer treatment for incarcerated people suffering from addiction. Some 60 percent of the city’s jailed population suffers from substance abuse, and 30 percent are diagnosed with mental illness.
“Our system of justice must hold criminals who traffic deadly drugs into our communities accountable for the destruction they cause, but we must draw a distinction between high-level dealers and nonviolent users who are struggling with addiction,” said Rutherford.
In an effort to broaden access to treatment options, the state’s health department has offered legislation that will eliminate the “Certificate of Need” requirement for facilities that provide some levels of inpatient treatment. The department is also pushing to expand the behavioral health workforce by allowing applicants seeking positions as substance abuse counselors to use supervised work experience instead of internships to meet certification requirements.
“Ultimately all of these initiatives are about saving lives,” said Hogan. “We look forward to working with members of the legislature to enact these common sense, bipartisan proposals as we continue to use all the tools at our disposal to combat this crisis and to save lives.”