This weekend, the Boston Globe published an article focused on Governor LePage’s prioritization of arrests over treatment in response to Maine's rise in drug abuse rates. The article pointed out that last month, the governors of New England convened a meeting to address the sharp rise in opioid overdoses across the region and to discuss best practices to combating this tragic public health problem. LePage however, was a no show.
“We have this opportunity for a fresh look, a new approach, and our governor refuses to participate,” - Alison Beyea, Executive Director, ACLU of Maine
While the other governors have all called for increases in funding for treatment programs, LePage continues to focus on failed drug war tactics, demanding more resources to hire drug agents, judges and prosecutors, all the while slashing funding for treatment programs. Now more and more Mainers suffering from addiction are being placed on increasingly long waiting lists or simply being turned away.
We cannot arrest away out of this problem - 40 years of the failed war on drugs has taught us that much. Addiction and substance abuse disorders are diseases that demand treatment-based solutions, not jail time. It’s time for Maine to follow the other New England states in recognizing that we need a new, more compassionate approach.