I came of age with the “War on Drugs.” Nancy Reagan urged my grade-school classmates to “just say no,” while each new policymaker couldn’t wait to take a harder line than the next. “Tough on crime” was the only look in vogue.

And where did that get us? More than one Mainer per day died from an overdose in 2018. Our children, parents, friends and co-workers continue to struggle with substance abuse disorder, and our overflowing jails aren’t helping them to get better. We’re spending money on incarceration that we could spend treating people, and offering our neighbors fear and stigma when we could be offering recovery. Worse, a new report from the Council of State Governments Justice Center shows that Maine’s outdated drug laws are leading to disproportionate jail time for black people and women.

We are destroying Maine families in order to save them.

We have a chance now to turn the tide toward justice. Soon the Maine Legislature will consider LD 1492, “An Act to Reform Drug Sentencing Laws.” This bill would remove criminal penalties for possessing small amounts of certain drugs. Trafficking charges would be based on demonstrated intent, not possession amount. Jailing fewer people will leave more funding available for treatment.

The time has come to lead with love in our approach to drug use and recovery. I urge state lawmakers to pass LD 1492.

Carrie Jadud, Lewiston


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