Maryland Governor Larry Hogan has allocated $3 million in additional state funds in an effort to battle opioid epidemic. The state’s Heroin & Opioid Emergency Task Force recommended two programs which will benefit from this funding. Heroin coordinator positions will be established in 18 law enforcement agencies throughout the state. These coordinators will make sure that data about drug investigations is shared with other jurisdictions in an effort to identify drug traffickers. The other program is the Safe Streets Initiative. This program focuses on the difference between dangerous drug offenders and those who are in need of substance abuse treatment. The Safe Streets program supports the hiring of “peer recovery specialists” who identify addicts and can connect them to treatment as soon as possible—hopefully, as soon as they are arrested.
Governor Hogan has a good reason for his passion about fighting the opioid epidemic in Maryland—his first cousin overdosed and died. “People don’t like to talk about this problem. The consequences of this heroin crisis are not easy or comfortable to acknowledge. Yet we must acknowledge it.” The governor has stated that he wants to develop alternatives to incarceration for addicts, which has clearly not worked. “Let’s be very clear: Addiction is a disease, and we will not be able to just arrest our way out of this crisis.”