Punishment won’t solve Maine’s drug problem, says top U.S. drug policy official

October 10th, 2014 by admin Leave a reply »

The nation’s top drug policy official said Thursday that arrest and incarceration is not the key to solving the state’s drug problem, but he also said legalizing marijuana would be counterproductive.

“We want to use every opportunity to move people away from the criminal justice system but we don’t think legalization is the answer,” said Michael Botticelli, acting director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, who toured a Portland recovery center and met with city officials and substance abuse professionals Thursday.

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Michael Botticelli, the acting director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, speaks at Mayor Michael Brennan’s Substance Abuse Subcommittee meeting,

Botticelli also was in Bangor on Wednesday, where he announced $7.5 million in funding for 19 community coalitions in Maine that are working to develop holistic approaches to preventing drug abuse.

Botticelli said he chose Maine to highlight the new approach because, like many other states, it is dealing with a severe drug-abuse problem spurred by the abuse of prescription painkillers.

The number of people seeking treatment for opiate addiction in Maine climbed from 2,291 in 2004 to 4,801 in 2013, with the number seeking treatment for heroin increasing the most.

Maine spent $43.7 million on substance abuse treatment in 2013, down 7 percent from 2010. The cost of drug and alcohol abuse in Maine is an estimated $1.4 billion per year when including costs associated with medical treatment, crime and incarceration.

A study released this summer found that, based on data from 2012, Maine doctors wrote 21.8

Article source: http://www.pressherald.com/2014/10/09/drug-policy-gets-less-punishing/