Maine has a population of just over 1.3 million people and, as of right now, 170,000 of those residents are currently seeking help for addiction. At the same time, Maine officials are attempting to pass legislation that they believe would help ease the burden of those suffering with substance abuse disorder.

According to WABI, Maine Representative, Lydia Crafts, is sponsoring a bill that she believes will help those that are suffering with the throes of addiction. The bill, in part, would decriminalize the possession and use of drugs in a quantity that was intended for personal use. Larger amounts of possession, primarily those used in trafficking operations, would still fall under the criminal umbrella.

Advocates and supporters of the bill claim that arresting our way out of the drug crisis is just not a feasible option. Supporters also say that Maine needs more 24-7 recovery centers. As of right now, the Pine Tree State only has one addiction center that is open around the clock.

Representative Lydia Crafts, the sponsor of the bill, said in part,

“We cannot arrest our way out of this disease and so what we need to do is shift the focus away from punishment through our criminal system into a public health narrative, so we are saying the way to do that best is to reduce barriers and to increase and invest in the services that we know people need and benefit from in order to live safe healthy productive lives."

Rick Desjardins, Director of Maine Drug Enforcement Agency, told WABI in part,

”By decriminalizing possession across the board, that would take away those, in some cases, those boundaries, those guardrails that some people need in order for them to stay on track. We are just concerned that that track, if we decriminalize across the board, we will remove those boundaries those barriers those guardrails and also send the wrong message to the folks who pay attention to law."

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