Parties agree heroin problem needs state attention

8:13 PM, Feb 5, 2014   |    comments
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AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Governor LePage's State of the State address got a cold reception from Democrats on Tuesday. They criticized just about everything the Governor said, except for one proposal: a plan to add more police and judges to deal with Maine's growing heroin problem.

Heroin use has increased dramatically over the past three years. The Maine Drug Enforcement Agency (MDEA) says heroin cases are up over 300 percent since 2011. And there were four times as many heroin overdose deaths in 2012 than the year before. Governor LePage told legislators he wants to add 14 more MDEA drug agents, along with four more prosecutors and four new drug court judges. The agency says they need the help to deal with the problem. However, Senate Assistant Democratic leader, Sen. Anne Haskell, says she hopes to state will also increase funding for drug treatment programs. Haskell says relying only on increased enforcement won't solve the heroin problem long term. She says more treatment programs will be needed to keep people off the drug.

The Governor's proposal would cost $2.7 million dollars for the new positions. The Legislature has yet to receive a formal proposal for the expansion.

Roy McKinney of Maine DEA says all the New England states are dealing with a heroin problem. The Governor of Vermont recently delivered his own state of the state address, and most of the speech reportedly focused on that state's heroin problem.


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