Annapolis, MD – On Friday, February 5, at 12:00 PM, Delegate Dan Morhaim will hold a press conference to announce his introduction of four harm reduction-focused bills to address the growing rate of substance use, overdose, and over incarceration. The press conference will be held at the House Office Building, Room 180, in Annapolis.

These four bills seek to shift the treatment of substance use from a criminal issue to a public health issue. For nearly half a century, the “War on Drugs” has imprisoned millions while substance use disorders and overdose deaths have risen. To reverse this trend, the four bills address the following:

Safe Consumption Programs – Around the world, similar programs already provide safe environments for people to consume substances under the supervision of medical professionals. Safe consumption programs have been proven to prevent overdose deaths, reduce incidence of HIV and Hepatitis C infection, and link people who use drugs to health care and treatment services

Decriminalization of Possession – With the passage of marijuana possession decriminalization two years ago, this bill would take the next logical step to include other commonly used controlled substances, such as heroin and cocaine. Decriminalization is necessary to reduce the number of non-violent offenses that can lead to a prison sentence and instead engage those who use drugs with the health care system.

On Demand Treatment – While many people with substance use disorders desire treatment and assistance, resources are often lacking. This bill would further the ability of hospitals and emergency rooms to direct patients into treatment programs.

Poly-Morphone-Assisted Treatment Pilot Project – Medically assisted treatment using methadone and/or burprenorphine has well documented success in addressing substance use disorders. This bill would establish a committee to research the potential of a pilot program to provide pharmaceutical-grade heroin to those wishing to limit their opioid use under the supervision of health care professionals.

“These drug policy reforms will provide a long overdue restructuring of how we deal with substance use in Maryland,” states Mark Sine, Executive Director of BSHRC. “We are excited to see progress being made on an issue that affects millions of lives. People who use drugs have been criminalized and stigmatized for far too long. It is time to try compassion and evidence-based practices.”