I write this letter in support of reforming Maine’s outdated drug laws through L.D. 1492, a piece of legislation that encourages a public health approach to fighting addiction and drug use rather than perpetuating a broken system of jails and incarceration. These outdated drug laws target our most vulnerable communities here in Maine, such as low-income Mainers and Mainers of color. L.D. 1492 would decriminalize holding small amounts of drugs for personal use and end the use of felony charges against those who solely use drugs.

As Mainers, we have all seen the toll that the opioid crisis has taken on our families, friends and communities. In 2018, more than one Mainer died every day on average from drug overdoses.

Charging those who use drugs with felonies does nothing to help combat the bigger issue of addiction in our state and hinders access to life-saving rehabilitation and recovery treatments for those who need them most. Our current prioritization of incarceration over treatment is much more expensive to Maine taxpayers than a system that promotes rehabilitation and recovery.

This bill is supported by organizations such as the Maine People’s Alliance, Maine Equal Justice Partners, the NAACP and ACLU of Maine, among many others. I call on Mainers who wish to end the opioid crisis to contact their state representatives and urge them to support this bill.

Wyatt Barnes

Porter

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