Radio Address: The War on Drug Dealers: Why Getting Tough on Crime is Part of the Plan to Recovery

February 13, 2014

(MP3 Audio)

Hello. This is Governor Paul LePage.

Drug addiction affects the lives of too many Mainers. The problem tears at the social fabric of our communities and costs our State millions of dollars.

There were 163 drug-induced deaths in Maine in 2012.

The use of heroin is increasing. Four times as many people died from a heroin overdose in 2012 than in 2011.

Even more troubling is the fact there were more than 900 drug-addicted babies born in our State last year.

Those children deserve better.

Democratic Senator Ann Haskell last week said that we have already lost the war on drugs. She made it sound like there is nothing we can do to address the problem. I disagree. To be successful fighting Maine’s drug problem, we must have a plan.

Some have criticized me for proposing a plan to fund more agents at the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency. But if we want the drugs off the streets, we must be willing to fight the root of the problem: drug dealers.

Just last week, MDEA charged eight people from Oxford County for running a methamphetamine lab. Last year, a record 20 meth labs were uncovered in Maine.

It is time we send a message that we will not tolerate this behavior.

During my Drug Crimes Summits with police chiefs from across Maine, I was told local law enforcement officials need more resources to fight the rising drug problem in our State.

Since local agencies do not have the manpower or resources they need, we need to add up to 14 MDEA agent positions.

We must hunt down meth and heroin dealers and get them off the streets. We must protect our citizens from drug-related crimes and violence. Criminals resort to robbing pharmacies and medicine cabinets to get their fix.

My proposal adds four new special drug prosecutors and four new judges to sit in enhanced drug courts in Presque Isle, Bangor, Lewiston and Portland.

We must get tough on crime. But we cannot ignore the importance of treatment and recovery for those addicted to drugs.

The Department of Health and Human Services provides nearly a dozen treatment programs, including those serving pregnant and parenting women to reduce the number of drug-affected babies and babies born with fetal alcohol disorder.

I’ve also had the chance to see how places like Open Door Recovery Center in Ellsworth are making a difference. The substance abuse recovery center has helped hundreds of Mainers struggling with substance and alcohol abuse. That’s why I made it a priority to give the center 50-thousand dollars last year.

We cannot wait until Mainers are addicted to illegal drugs, then provide them with prescription drugs to try to beat their addiction. We need real solutions.

If you are or abusing drugs or know someone who is, there is help available. Dial 2-1-1 to find resources in your area.

With a plan to fight the crime, address addiction and identify a road to recovery, we can reduce drug use in our State.

The war on drug dealers is not over unless we give up. And giving up is never an option.

Thank you.