No one should die or have their life derailed because they, or someone they love, uses drugs. But that is what is happening in Maine because of criminalization: There are very real economic and social costs because Maine criminalizes drug use and possession. We talked to more than 150 people -- those who have been arrested for drug crimes, their family members as well as prosecutors, defense attorneys, treatment providers, and harm reduction workers.
In these pages, we'll detail the enormous toll that drug laws take on our communities. Our data is pulled from interviews conducted in person, over the telephone, and on Zoom. We also submitted public records requests and reviewed academic public health research, as well as local and national media stories covering drug policy.
The report illustrates the harm that criminalization does to individuals and their families and how much money the state has spent to do so. Our recommendations will not only help people who use drugs, but will mean wiser investments of public funds.
We hope this report will make a new way in Maine, one that turns away from old systems of punishment and towards an investment in communities and connection.