The drug epidemic here in Maine and across America is getting out of control. The result has been a rising social crisis and growing political battle over how to fight it. One proposal would take an interesting approach and has bipartisan support. The proposed legislation, introduced by Representative Michael Sylvester (D-Portland) and includes support from Senator Angus King challenger State Senator Eric Brakey (R-Auburn), would create state run safe injection spots.
While there is debate regarding the effectiveness of the drug war itself, the creation of state sponsored injection sites is not the right approach. The proposal borrows both from the idea that the drug war works and that it doesn’t.
If making it safe for drug addicts helps prevent overdose, why not decriminalize the drug usage? This would free up law enforcement resources for more severe criminal activity, such as murder and human trafficking. It would also prevent overdoses because people wouldn’t have fear of the law in seeking help.
If the drug war is truly effective in prevent drug use, then what good will creating safe houses do?
A safe place to use illegal drugs is an oxymoron. If this is our approach, then simply decriminalize.
There is also the idea of using taxpayer dollars for to fund heroin addictions. Should the hard earned dollars of Mainers be used so people can make poor personal choices without fear of the consequences? How much should Mainers be on the hook for when it comes to making up for others’ bad decisions?
There is a lot of debate in Augusta about taxpayers paying for people to eat candy bars and drink soda, so why would taxpayers paying for shooting up heroin be an option?
Taxpayer dollars, if anything, is better used elsewhere. With homelessness rampant, why not help get people off the streets? The money could be better invested in the community by helping with programs to end hunger, assist veterans, and help children.
This is not to say we shouldn’t help those with drug addiction. It is a serious problem and it should be addressed. If we’re going to spend taxpayer dollars on the drug crisis, then put them into rehabilitation programs. Help people transition away from the drugs, instead of creating a place that encourages usage on the taxpayer dime.
If Representative Michael Sylvester, Senator Eric Brakey and others want to help the problem, they need to consider what they’re asking of the taxpayers. We understand the drug problem is serious and it is absolutely a crisis affecting our communities. But instead of helping heal people, are we just going to settle for asking taxpayers to fund a safe house for shooting up?