BALTIMORE (WJZ)– Government and law enforcement are in an uphill battle against heroin addiction in Maryland and Governor Hogan signed an executive order Tuesday.
Political reporter Pat Warren has details on the state’s next move. All over the state parents are losing their children.
“I feel like our family was given a life sentence of grief,” said Toni Torsch.
Despite being the state’s chief executive, despite being Anne Arundel County’s senior law enforcement official, regardless of the successes, regardless of the programs, it’s public health crisis number one, there was nearly 1,000 heroin deaths in Maryland in the first half of last year.
“I lost a cousin– first cousin to this terrible disease with a heroin overdose myself,” said Hogan.
“Eight days ago I buried my brother-in-law,” said Anne Arundel State’s attorney Wes Adams.
“It started when I was 12 years old and the first time I stopped I was 29. It’s not just getting clean – it’s like cleaning your whole life,” said one recovering addict.
“I’m the first one to say it was a crisis and an emergency when people were laughing about it and said it wasn’t that bad of a deal,” said Hogan.
Tuesday, Governor Hogan signed an executive order to establish an opioid command center to collaborate all agencies and services related to addiction and crime control.
An additional $4 million is budgeted to help those struggling with addiction. Treatment services will be expanded and tougher penalties are proposed for drug trafficking.
“In every area of the country people dying left and right and it’s getting worse every single year,” said Hogan.
The governor’s decision to step up, not give up, and sign an executive order for more action. This is an expansion of the first order signed in 2015.
In addition to the executive order, there will be legislation proposed to create a new felony for distributing an opioid that causes another’s death.