The Heroin and Opioid Emergency Task Force, chaired by Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford, released its final report to Governor Larry Hogan on December 1, 2015. As announced in a press release from the Governor’s Office:
The Final Report, in conjunction with the August 2015 Interim Report, completes all of the Task Force’s duties as outlined in Executive Order 01.01.2015.12. It contains 33 new recommendations that address all major facets of the issue, and are divided into seven major sections:
- Expanding Access to Treatment
- Enhancing Quality of Care
- Boosting Overdose Prevention Efforts
- Escalating Law Enforcement Options
- Reentry and Alternatives to Incarceration
- Promoting Educational Tools to Youth, Parents, and School Officials
- Improving State Support Services
“Throughout the campaign, in every corner of the state, I heard heartbreaking stories of how heroin and opioid abuse was destroying families and communities and I knew that tackling this issue had to be a top priority of our administration,” Governor Larry Hogan said. “I am extremely proud of the work Lt. Governor Rutherford and the Task Force have done over the last nine months and applaud them for the countless hours they spent developing these recommendations to combat this devastating epidemic. I look forward to reviewing their recommendations and taking the next steps to significantly reduce heroin and opioid abuse in Maryland.”
As previously reported on Conduit Street, the Task Force released an interim report on Tuesday, August 25, which presented some initial findings, budget and policy recommendations that could more or less be implemented immediately. The interim report included a few recommendations, such as grants for providing community-based naloxone training and distribution and grants to pilot naloxone distribution to individuals screened positive for opioid use disorder at release from local detention centers, that provided support to local jurisdictions and their health departments.
The Maryland Heroin and Opioid Emergency Task Force is a Hogan-Rutherford Administration initiative to fight addiction and reduce drug use and drug-related crime in the state. The 11 member committee was created through an Executive Order and charged in part with advising and assisting the Governor on how to treat and reduce heroin and opioid abuse, and developing recommendations concerning treatment and recovery services, law enforcement coordination, alternatives to incarceration, public awareness, and education.
Through regional summits and meetings, the Task Force brought together a broad range of stakeholders to help develop a plan to deal with the state-wide crisis. The Task Force held six regional summits across the state to hear testimony from local officials, advocates, law enforcement, experts, and residents on the challenges, success and unresolved needs to address the disease of addiction and the heroin epidemic in their communities. The final report was due to the Governor December 1, 2015.