BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Gubernatorial Candidate Ben Jealous has released a 12-page proposal on how to fight against the crisis of heroin and opioid addiction. That’s according to our media partners at The Baltimore Sun.
The proposal is his first comprehensive policy position since launching his campaign for the Democratic nomination to run against Republican Governor Larry Hogan.
Jealous says his strategy relies on more treatment and less on prison time. It’s as addiction has been escalating in Maryland and across the nation. The Maryland Department of Health says heroin deaths have more than doubled since 2014. Fatalities linked to fentanyl have increased sixfold in that time.
The Democrat faulted Hogan for waiting until this year to deliver on his 2014 promise to declare a state of emergency. The former NAACP national president also says Hogan hasn’t gone far enough in shifting the emphasis toward treating addiction as a public health crisis rather than a law enforcement matter.
The proposal calls for providing the overdose-reversal drug naloxone to Baltimore and the 23 counties at affordable prices. He said he would use the state’s purchasing power to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies for the best prices.
Jealous’ plan also involves creating “outreach teams” in each jurisdiction to react when opioid overdoses spike in a particular area and training residents to administer naloxone and to help get addicts into treatment. He also promises to work more closely with Attorney General Brian Frosh on efforts to sue the manufacturers of prescription opioids whose products have led people into addiction and the use of cheaper, illegal drugs.