Radio Address: Gerzofsky lauds bipartisan plan to fight state's drug abuse epidemic

Posted: December 11, 2015 | Senator Gerzofsky, Weekly Radio Address

The United States has been fighting the War on Drugs since Ronald Reagan was president. If there’s one thing we’ve learned, it’s that we can’t just arrest our way out of this public health crisis.

Hi there, this is Senator Stan Gerzofsky from Brunswick.

This week, a bipartisan group of legislative leaders unveiled a plan to address our state’s drug problem. It includes funding for additional treatment and prevention. It also authorizes the MDEA to hire more agents to stop the flow of drugs into our state.

We’re not tackling this problem because we want to. We’re tackling it because we have to. The drug crisis is killing Maine people and devastating families all over our state. As elected officials, we have a moral obligation to act, and to act now.

This proposal is comprehensive. It reduces the demand for deadly drugs by providing treatment for more people whose lives have been ruined by addiction. We accomplish this by creating a new detox facility in Bangor, increasing outpatient and residential treatment for Mainers, and doubling the number of recovery centers, which help keep people on the straight and narrow.

We also disrupt the supply of drugs by hiring 10 more MDEA agents. This means more investigations, more arrests, and more poison taken off the black market. These agents will help clean up our streets and make it harder for drug dealers to operate with impunity.

Both sides of the coin are equally crucial, so we must fund both equally.

Having a good plan is great, but anyone who’s been in the Legislature for as long as I have knows that good ideas don’t always make it in Augusta. But on this issue, the stakes are far too high to let politics get in the way. More and more heroin is finding its way into our state. Last year saw a record number of overdose deaths, and this year, it’s on track to be even worse.

Everyone in Augusta recognizes the gravity of the problem. Luckily, while some were content to shout about it and pound their fists on the table, the top Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate were hard at work negotiating this plan.

With that kind of buy-in from both sides of the aisle, the Legislature should be able to pass a comprehensive plan like this in record-setting time. It’s the right thing to do, and we need to do it now. For many Mainers, it’s a matter of life and death.

I’m Stan Gerzofsky, and I want to thank you for listening.