Weekly Message of Governor Paul LePage: We cannot wait any longer to fight drug dealers
- We cannot wait any longer to fight drug dealers
Heroin is raging in our state, and it is killing Mainers every week. We need less talk on this deadly pandemic and more action.
Hello, this is Governor Paul LePage.
Everyone agrees Maine’s heroin problem has escalated into a public health crisis. But politicians differ on how to handle it.
My administration is focused right now on attacking the supply side of the problem. We need more law enforcement officials on the streets, hunting down drug dealers and stopping them from selling poison in our state. However, as we have said repeatedly, we are not looking to arrest drug addicts. We are going after the organized drug dealers who run these illegal operations like a very profitable business. We need to shut them down wherever we can.
We absolutely agree that more treatment, education and recovery efforts are needed. If the Legislature wants to create a comprehensive plan to increase both law enforcement and treatment, we welcome it. The Legislature has the ability to prioritize funding for this comprehensive plan when they go through the budget. Unfortunately, like everything else the Legislature does, it will take a long time to come up with the plan—and even longer to implement it.
We can’t stand by and watch Mainer after Mainer die from heroin or other lethal opiates while the Legislature is mulling over their plan.
As Maine is plagued with the worst drug epidemic in history, MDEA is shortest staff than ever. We first proposed 14 new agents in March 2014, but the Legislature only approved 4 new drug enforcement agents in July. That’s not enough.
We need to build a pipeline for hiring and training new agents so as some are hitting the streets, more are coming in for training. But the Legislature has delayed these law enforcement efforts for a year-and-a-half. As the drug crisis is rapidly accelerating, we are falling behind in resources to stop the supply. The Legislature can determine the timeline for funding the new agents. I just need to know they are serious about creating these positions no later than Jan. 2016. But if they continue to stall and wait around for an unspecified plan to increase treatment, I will move ahead without them. As they contemplate how to create a plan, Mainers are literally dropping dead.
If they have not informed me by December 10 that they are planning to fund these new agents, I will take action.
That’s why I will use every resource available to me to fight these drug traffickers, including temporary support from the National Guard.
Every life is worth saving, and we will do whatever is necessary to prevent the death of one more Mainer.