It’s time to rethink our approach to the opioid epidemic in Maine.

It’s time to put compassion over criminalization.

It’s time to lead with love.

Last year, Mainers died from drug overdoses at a rate of nearly one a day. While Maine is finally taking steps to fight the opioid epidemic, too many of our leaders continue to approach drug use as an issue of crime and punishment rather than a matter of public health. Consequently many Mainers struggle with the shame and stigma associated with drug use and continue to struggle with substance use disorder without access to treatment.

It’s time for our elected officials to rethink how to address this crisis. Instead of criminalization, we need to embrace compassion. Instead of relying on outdated policies that lock people away, we need to embrace smart, evidence-based reforms that save lives.

Help raise awareness and break down the stigma

The far reaching and devastating impact of the opioid epidemic has been felt in nearly every corner of the state. Mainers from all walks of life have either experienced this first-hand or know a friend or family member who has. We feel a hole in our heart as our neighbors and friends suffer.

We want to show our elected officials that Mainers are ready to lead with love when it comes to addressing the drug epidemic in this state. That’s why we’re distributing free lapel pins to symbolize this important movement to embrace compassion over criminalization and to support policies that save lives.

We hope that as more Mainers wear this symbol and spark conversations about this important issue, the more likely we are to move our leaders to take meaningful action and help de-stigmatize drug use and addiction so more Mainers can come out of the shadows and seek help.

If you want to show that you have in some way been impacted by this crisis and support a compassion-first approach to addressing it, you can request a lapel pin using the form below:

Smart, compassionate policy can save lives

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.

Tell legislators: pass these smart, compassionate policies to fight the opioid epidemic

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:

Who we are

The Maine Coalition for Sensible Drug Policy consists of people, programs and organizations throughout Maine dedicated to advancing compassionate care for people who use drugs and ending the ‘War on Drugs’. The Coalition convened in 2018 to develop their Sensible Drug Policy Recommendations, to supplement the recommendations of the Opioid Task Force by emphasizing evidence-based practices, promising solutions and innovative new approaches to addressing substance use.