Maryland and Virginia Officials Pledge Action on Overdose Deaths

As the number of overdose deaths continue to escalate, so does the urgency to take action. While there is no one simple approach, leaders in Maryland and Virginia continue to make reducing the use of heroin and its associated deaths a priority. As reported in the Washington Post:

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) has declared reducing heroin use a priority and put his lieutenant governor in charge of finding solutions. Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) introduced a package of heroin-related bills in the past week that would, among other provisions, increase criminal penalties for drug dealers who supply lethal doses and reduce penalties for drug users who seek help for friends who have overdosed.

The governors’ actions reflect mounting concern among public officials up and down the East Coast about the escalation in overdoses, which some say has become a public health epidemic. Despite a sense of urgency to pass legislation, however, experts say there is no simple or inexpensive cure for heroin addiction — and there are differing views on which approach to try first.

“This is one of those things no one likes to talk about, but it’s gone too far,” said Cecil County Executive Tari Moore (R), who pushed to make heroin one of the top four legislative priorities of the Maryland Association of Counties. “We can’t hide from it anymore. . . . We have to own it. We have to do something.”

“It’s impacting every aspect of our society,” Hogan said last month. “It’s going to continue to get worse unless we get a handle on it.”

Hogan has pledged to find more funding for treatment and to convene a summit of experts and activists to advise him. His spokeswoman said Friday that he and Lt. Gov. Boyd K. Rutherford (R), who will lead the effort, plan an announcement with state leaders “very soon.”

For more information read the full article in the Washington Post.

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