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Governor’s Address: Stronger, Safer Communities Require Public Safety and Public Health Strategies

Maine’s Heroin Crisis is real and it requires more than treatment to keep our communities safe.

Dear Maine Taxpayer,

On Wednesday, I will, along with the Commissioner of Public Safety John Morris, host a Drug Crisis Summit.

In light of surging heroin use in Maine and the alarming rate at which people are overdosing we must come together to identify ways to stop this deadly drug abuse, utilizing our very limited resources. While prevention and treatment efforts are worthy of discussion, we are never going to eliminate the drug problem altogether through treatment alone.

The State has increased substance abuse treatment spending by $21 million since 2008. Today, taxpayers spend more than $72 million on substance abuse treatment.

This brings me to a very important point, which is supply and demand.

Disrupting the drug supply chain is critical to saving lives. We no longer can neglect the root of the problem. Our massive drug crisis stems from the traffickers and gangs coming into our state. In addition, our state is suffering from drug-related crimes often committed by addicts to support their drug addiction.

It is an issue of supply and demand. We know we have addicts who truly are the victims and we have resources available for those who want it. Yet, we have not adequately addressed the supply chain. We must address both.

As Governor, I am unable to spend money without authorization from the legislature. I mentioned earlier that the State spends more than $72 million on substance abuse treatment. Compare this to the $3 million spent on law enforcement efforts. It really is an embarrassment how little funding the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency receives.

Once again the media is criticizing the Summit, which is mostly comprised of law enforcement experts. However, the purpose of this Summit is to  have a comprehensive law enforcement approach to the exploding number of drug traffickers entering our state.

Seventy-million toward substance abuse while drug diversion in Maine receives $3 million highlights our unbalanced approach to combatting drug traffickers.

Despite this, on Wednesday we will identify ways to disrupt the drug supply coming into Maine with the limited resources we have. We will also talk about patterns of illegal drug production, distribution, and consumption and determine how we can communicate more effectively with each other.

We can help make our neighborhoods and communities safer and our people healthier, and to do that we will identify solutions in both public health and public safety.

Thank You,

Paul R. LePage



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