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Report calls on Maine to decriminalize drug use and possession

Published: Mar. 21, 2022 at 4:42 PM EDT
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BANGOR, Maine (WABI) - The ACLU of Maine along with the Maine Center for Economic Policy released a report on Monday calling on the state to decriminalize drug use and possession.

The report highlights issues of the financial costs related to criminalizing people for drug use, personal costs, and an inadequate amount of resources for drug users to get the help they need.

It calls for Maine to invest in proven and cost effective public health approaches to drug use.

According to the report, a year in state prison costs just over $54,000, which they say is more than twice as much as it would cost to provide housing, counseling, and treatment with MaineCare reimbursement rates.

”Healthcare providers we interviewed told us for people with substance use disorder who are fortunate enough to be able to access treatment in the community, arrest and incarceration interrupts and in many cases adds to their treatment, leading to worse outcomes, more chaotic use, and more overdose death,” said Winifred Tate, Colby College associate professor of anthropology.

People who spoke on Monday say in order to reduce the stigma around drug use, there needs to be a change in laws not just language.

A link to the full report can be found here.

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