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Maine Governor Paul LePage vetoed legislation this week that would have allowed access to the life-saving overdose antidote naloxone without a prescription. Explaining his veto, LePage wrote “naloxone does not truly save lives; it merely extends them until the next overdose.” Every state in the nation, with the exception of five, have either passed or are in the process of passing naloxone access legislation, and thirty states currently allow for sales of the overdose antidote without a prescription.

“In essence, Governor LePage is saying that saving lives perpetuates addiction and that it is better to let people die” said Bill Piper, director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance. “Family and friends are more often than not the first to come into contact with a person experiencing an overdose and it is imperative that they have access to naloxone. Governor LePage continues to exacerbate the overdose crisis when he could be working on solutions proven to save lives.”

Governor LePage continues to stir controversy with his stances on drug policy. During a town hall meeting earlier this year, LePage responded to a question about tackling substance abuse in Maine by saying “these are guys with the name D-Money, Smoothie, Shifty – these types of guys – they come from Connecticut and New York, they come up here, they sell their heroin, they go back home. He went on to say “incidentally, half the time they impregnate a young white girl before they leave, which is a real sad thing because then we have another issue we have to deal with down the road.”

“There is no place for bigotry and fear in crafting a sensible response to a widespread public health concern,” says Sharda Sekaran, Communications Director at the Drug Policy Alliance. “What we need are humane, intelligent and visionary leaders, not the antiquated racist views that got us in this mess in the first place.”

LD 1547, the naloxone bill vetoed by LePage, has received strong support from those in the health and law enforcement community. The L.D. 1547 and all other vetoed legislation will be reconsidered by the Legislature on April 29. Two-thirds vote in both the House and Senate are required to override a gubernatorial veto.

“Naloxone saves lives. In order to obtain treatment, a person must remain alive. Addiction is a treatable condition and not a moral failing. I urge the Maine Legislature to override this veto and expand access to Naloxone” says Chris Poulos, a native Mainer in long term recovery who overcame addiction and federal incarceration to attend law school and work on criminal justice policy reform at the local, state, and federal levels.

Date Published: April 21, 2016
Published by Drug Policy Alliance

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