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Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford Hosts Central Maryland Heroin Task Force Regional Summit


Summit Covers Baltimore City, Baltimore, Anne Arundel,
Howard, and Carroll Counties

ANNAPOLIS, MD – Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford today joined with members of the Heroin and Opioid Emergency Task Force, elected officials, law enforcement, and substance abuse experts for the second regional summit to address Maryland’s growing heroin crisis. The summit was held in Baltimore at the University of Baltimore School of Law.

The Heroin and Opioid Emergency Task Force, created by Governor Hogan in February 2015 with two executive orders and led by Lt. Governor Rutherford, is comprised of elected officials, substance abuse experts and law enforcement officials. The group meets regularly and solicits input and guidance from a wide variety of sources throughout the state, including educators, families of those suffering from addiction, former addicts, and other vested stakeholders.

“The goal of this summit is to listen,” Rutherford said. “Each person joining us today offers a unique perspective into this crisis, and hearing each perspective will put our task force in the best position to offer holistic, comprehensive solutions to prevent abuse, treat addiction, fight drug trafficking, and reduce drug-related crime.”

Drug use, and in particular heroin and opioid abuse, is on the rise in Maryland. In 2013, heroin-related overdose deaths (464) outnumbered homicides (387), a 95% increase in heroin-related overdose deaths since 2010. In addition, preliminary findings for 2014 show overall heroin-related overdose deaths have continued to rise and will outpace those in 2013 by approximately 20 percent. There is growing evidence that many new heroin addictions stem from the abuse of prescription painkillers. Once addicted to these opioids, individuals may switch to increasingly cheap and “available” heroin.

Representatives from the central Maryland jurisdictions of Baltimore City and Baltimore, Anne Arundel, Howard, and Carroll Counties were present to address the task force. Notable speakers include Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, Anne Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh, Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman, President of Carroll County Commissioners Doug Howard, and Baltimore City Health Commissioner Leana Wen, as well as Baltimore County State’s Attorney Scott Shellenberger, Baltimore City Circuit Judge Ellen Heller, Anne Arundel County State’s Attorney Wes Adams, Anne Arundel Sheriff Ron Bateman, Howard County State’s Attorney Dario Broccolino, and Carroll County Colonel Larry Suther.