Maryland is in the grips of a health emergency. Opioid addiction has ravaged every part of our state and its population. Overdoses have become one of the leading causes of death of our citizens. As with so much else, Governor Hogan has talked a good game about combating the opioid crisis, but has done little. We need a comprehensive plan to attack opioid addiction and the commitment and organization to implement it effectively. I will provide that.
During his campaign for Governor, Larry Hogan promised to make combating the heroin epidemic a priority. But he did not follow those words with adequate action. The steps he has taken have been tepid and delayed. It took him until last year to declare a state of emergency. He has not provided the state with a well-funded or comprehensive plan to attack the issue.
Most importantly, we need to establish treatment programs throughout the state. We must expand our outreach efforts to the most vulnerable parts of our population to bring access to treatment to those who don’t have the resources or ability to get to rehabilitation centers. We must ensure that all emergency personnel are trained and provided with the latest overdose treatments, including increasing the availability of naloxone.
Opioid addiction is a complicated problem with multiple root causes. We need to reconsider how pharmaceutical companies market opioids to doctors. We need to reconsider how doctors prescribe opioids to our citizens. We need to train our emergency healthcare personnel on the latest in overdose treatment and fund programs to increase the availability of the lifesaving drug naloxone.
The opioid epidemic is a public health issue, not a criminal justice issue. An appointment in rehab, not a jail cell, is the way to cure addiction. At the same time, we need to focus our law enforcement efforts on the violent gangs that are flooding our street with heroin, the deadly synthetic opioid fentanyl, and diverted prescription drugs.
Maryland needs to combat the opioid epidemic. I will commit to attacking this problem, and unlike Governor Hogan I will follow through with action. As Governor, I will bring an integrated and comprehensive plan to aiding our fellow citizens.