Lawmakers in Augusta are finally poised to make progress in fighting the opioid epidemic, but too many policies approach drug use as an issue of crime and punishment rather than a matter of public health. Not only does this stigmatize people with substance use disorder, but it prevents many from seeking treatment. We support policies that prioritize compassionate care over criminalization.
Right now the legislature is taking up several important pieces of legislation that would save lives:
LD 949 – This bill would allow the creation of two overdose prevention sites in Maine. Overdose prevention sites are supervised health care settings where people can use drugs in a safe environment, under supervision of trained staff. Often these sites also offer basic health care, counseling and referrals to health and social services, including substance use treatment. Sites like these have been in use in Europe and Canada, and have been shown to prevent overdose deaths and reduce the spread of infectious diseases associated with intravenous drug use.
LD 1492 – This bill would remove criminal penalties for possession of 3.5 grams or less of heroin, which is the amount someone might have on them for their personal use for a week, and eliminate presumptions of trafficking based solely on weight or amount of drugs a person possesses. The current war on drugs casts a wide net that catches up many Mainers who are struggling with their substance use disorder. We should be doing everything we can to ensure Mainers can get access to treatment – not locking them away and putting felonies on their records because of their substance use disorder.
LD 1689 – This bill would expand access to syringe exchange services and naloxone throughout the state to help curb hepatitis C and overdose mortality. Syringe exchange services are often an important, yet severely underfunded, gateway to treatment services that helps save lives and prevent the spread of communicable diseases. The bill would also decriminalize possession of syringes. Maine is the only state that criminalizes syringes specifically. This unintentionally keeps people out of public health programs and leads people to reuse and share syringes contributing to the spread of disease.
Click the button below to send a message to your representative and senator and tell them to support smart, compassionate policies to fight the opioid epidemic: