Enough is enough. It has been reported that in the first month of this year there was a spike in fatal overdoses in the greater Portland area. High potency batches of heroin, cocaine and meth have all been seen in growing quantities in the area. Some of them are laced with Fentanyl. All are poison.

If you have paid attention to the papers and the news over the last couple of months you would have noticed the numbers of people getting arrested for crimes involving the sale of illegal drugs. And these are not only sales of small quantities. Some of the busts have involved pounds of the products. Whether it is one pill or two pounds of a powdery substance we have seen a marked increase.

For example, here are a few of the recent busts in Maine. On Wednesday of this week, it was reported that a person was arrested with more than two pounds of Fentanyl, a significant number of Ecstasy pills and cash. The Fentanyl alone could have provided almost 1 million lethal doses of the drug by some calculations. Almost one for every man, woman and child in Maine. And these doses do not come with the same safeguards that one would have when dealing with a pharmacy or a hospital.

Another bust saw a trio get arrested with cocaine, heroin and meth in their car and residence. Clearly, based on the information in the court filings, these drugs were not for personal use.

There were arrests of four individuals from the Empire State for attempting to sell drugs in western Maine. There were arrests on the turnpike of individuals transporting a large quantity of cocaine base, or Crack.

There were arrests of a pair of people in Lewiston where the police seized various quantities of drugs, a sizeable amount of money and a few stolen guns. This group not only had the drug angle taken care of, but they were working on the firearm bit as well.

A group was arrested in December in the scenic locale of Jay with a quantity of crack and heroin. Two of these alleged drug kingpin wannabes were out on bail from charges in a prior drug case. Sadly, in this case and many like it, the maximum sentence for the drug charges was reported to only be five years in prison. It also carries with it a fine of up to $5,000.

The one thing in common that each of these cases has is the selling of illegal poisons to Maine people. This problem is not one for the young. Drug use or abuse can afflict any population within the State. And, as I mentioned above, drug use and overdoses are killing Mainers at an alarming rate.

On Tuesday I heard Jonathan Sahrbeck, the Cumberland County District Attorney, on the radio speak to this issue of drug overdoses. While he and his team of prosecutors are working on the problem, he mentioned that if a drug dealer is found to have sold the drugs that resulted in an overdose death there was an additional charge that could be added. Unfortunately, by law, that charge would only result in an additional four years to the person’s prison time.

Only four years.

I will not try to absolve the user of any responsibility in their demise. After all, they have taken the drugs. They sought the drugs out. However, if the person has passed on, they have already paid a steep price. It is time that the persons pushing these poisons on the people of Maine pay an increasingly steep price for their conduct as well.

If you are caught selling drugs in Maine you should find yourself in for a long existence in one of our state facilities. Perhaps we could get a new one built out of sight, out of mind. Perhaps just west of an area like the Allagash.

For the damage that is being done to our people young and old there must be a solution. If even a few of these deaths from overdoses can be prevented by putting the dealers away for thirty or forty years, then it is worth it. The answer seems simple. The only thing lacking is the pressure at the legislative level to make it a reality.

It is time to put these people pushing poisons on our streets where they belong…away, for a very long time.

Jonathan Crimmins can be reached at [email protected]

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