Maryland’s Opioid Operational Command Center, the Maryland Department of Health, and the Governor’s Office of Crime Control & Prevention recently announced $40 million through the end of FY 2019 to fight heroin and opioid addiction in the state. The funds come from both the state and federal governments and will be used to continue and augment the struggle against prescription and illicit opioid abuse in Maryland.
One quote in particular from the news release caught our attention: Clay Stamp, executive director of the Opioid Operational Command Center shared his view that “Our local jurisdictions are inspiring – because it’s there, at the local level, in neighborhoods, schools, and communities – where we are making the biggest impact.”
BornFree Wellness Center is proud to count ourselves among those striving to create change in our community and to improve the lives of addicts and their families.
These new funds are a welcome announcement. Here is a recap of some other legislation surrounding the opioid crisis specific to our efforts here in Maryland.
Overdose Data Reporting Act
This recently passed legislation empowers medical providers and police to record and share information about overdoses. In our fight against addiction, it’s important for us to be able to collect and analyze as much data as possible to predict problem areas and head off developing trends. Real-time availability of overdose information can also improve life-saving and increase the chances of having the right people reach an overdose victim before it’s too late.
Controlled Dangerous Substances – Volume Dealers Act
This bill essentially codified the relatively new fentanyl and related drugs into the language on sentencing and punishment for high-volume drug dealers. It also lowered the threshold for what is considered a “high volume” of heroin from 448 to 28 grams (!).
House Bill 771
This bill would have essentially criminalized the repeated use of taxpayer-funded Narcan. Its sponsor, Del. Andrew Cassilly, contended that addicts who were revived with Narcan or Naloxone multiple times were using the drugs as a safety net to continue whatever destructive behavior they chose to engage in. We invite Mr. Cassilly to read our position on the matter: that addiction is a disease, not a moral choice. This bill is still under consideration.
Passed in April of 2017, this wide-ranging bill dedicated money to several resources to combating overdose deaths in Maryland. The bill included measures such as higher payments to behavioral health providers, expansion of the availability of overdose-reversing drugs like Naloxone, improvements to the 24/7 crisis hotline, and the standardization of screening and release procedures for hospital patients showing with symptoms of addiction.
Prescriber Limits Act of 2017
Maryland voted to make doctor diagnostic requirements tougher in order to limit the availability of opiate drugs. Doctors are now limited to prescribing the lowest effective does of an opiate and are restricted to doing so only in cases where they are deemed necessary.
Continuing the Fight
We are encouraged by this dedication of new funds and are pleased that the opioid crisis isn’t treated as another flash-in-the-pan news story. Maryland has, for the most part, taken its problems with addiction seriously and has empowered community healthcare and police agencies to do as much good as possible. We will continue to monitor and share new opioid legislation in Maryland.