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Hogan Lays Out Plan To Fight Heroin

Christopher Connelly/WYPR

Gov. Larry Hogan announced new initiatives Tuesday to combat what he calls heroin emergency in the state. States across the East Coast have seen a dramatic rise in heroin. In Maryland, heroin-related deaths have nearly doubled since 2010, and now outpaces the state-wide homicide rate.

Hogan, who grew emotional while announcing the initiatives, said he knows first-hand the devastation of heroin addiction after he lost his cousin to an overdose. Still, he said he was surprised by how far-reaching the problem was when he was out campaigning throughout the state.

“Almost universally, everywhere we went when we asked the question what’s the problem facing your community they said heroin,” Hogan said.

Saying we can’t arrest our way out of the heroin problem, Hogan called for a holistic approach focused on prevention and treatment. He tapped Lieutenant Governor Boyd Rutherford to head up a multi-agency coordinating council and a task force to come up with data-driven public health and public safety policy, regulations, and legislation.

Hogan said he’ll designate a $500,000 of federal grant money to aid substance abuse programs targeting people leaving prison. He also announced a donation by Richmond-based Kaleo Pharmaceuticals of 5,000 EVZIO kits that are used to treat opiate overdoses. 

The move comes amid increased attention to the problem. Earlier this month, Attorney General Brian Frosh announced that Maryland would join an initiative with other East Coast states to combat heroin trafficking. Lawmakers in Annapolis have proposed a suite of bills to address the state's heroin crisis, including an effort to ratchet up sentences for dealers who sell lethal doses of heroin, and a bill to make less addictive non-opiate painkillers more accessible.