O'Malley Hosts Roundtable Discussion with Nation's 'Drug Czar'

ANNAPOLIS (Sept. 25, 2009) – Governor Martin O’Malley today hosted a roundtable discussion with the Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, Gil Kerlikowske, traditionally known as the nation’s “Drug Czar,” along with House Speaker Michael Busch, members of law enforcement, youth, and community leader stakeholders to discuss the current drug control strategy and its effectiveness at every level of government, including what can be done to improve it. The roundtable is part of a six city tour by Kerlikowske around the nation to assess the drug control program and ways to make it more effective for the American people.

“One of the most solemn obligations we have as public servants is to protect and enhance the safety and security of the people we serve, and with federal partners like the Office of National Drug Control Policy, we’re making real progress,” said Governor O’Malley. “It’s my honor to welcome Director Kerlikowske to Annapolis as we speak frankly with those on the front lines of our efforts to combat the harmful impact of drugs on our families and neighborhoods.”

“My 37 years of law enforcement, including nine as Seattle Police Chief, tell me that substance abuse is an issue of public health and safety, as well as one of law enforcement,” said Office of National Drug Control Policy Director Gil Kerlikowske. “This meeting with Governor O’Malley and representatives from the public health and safety communities in Maryland is a positive sign that we are building partnerships needed to develop sound policy that will ultimately reduce drug abuse in Maryland and across the nation.”

Today’s meeting marks the eighth roundtable in the Director’s “listening tour” as he solicits advice and discusses state and local anti-drug programs with treatment providers, law enforcement officials, local elected officials, doctors, researchers and social workers. Other roundtables have been held in Seattle, Washington; El Paso, Texas; Denver, Colorado; New Orleans, Louisiana; Fort Wayne, Indiana; St. Louis, Missouri, and Carbondale, Illinois. These efforts are part of the fact-finding that will help inform the drafting of the Obama Administration’s National Drug Control Strategy, scheduled to be issued in early 2010.

As Mayor of Baltimore, Governor O’Malley sought a substantial increase of drug treatment funding as part of his commitment to establishing Baltimore as the safest big city in the nation. By the time Governor O’Malley left the City to serve as Governor, the City had received an over 100 percent increase in funding for drug treatment, leading to a drop in drug induced deaths in the City of 32 percent in four years.

As Governor, O’Malley signed an Executive Order that establishes the Maryland Drug and Alcohol Abuse Council, tasked with the identification, development and recommendation of comprehensive systemic improvements in the organization and delivery of drug and alcohol abuse prevention, intervention and treatment services in Maryland.

Governor O’Malley has set a goal to expand access to substance abuse services in Maryland by 25 percent by 2012. Even during this severe national economic recession, Maryland has committed 11 percent more in funding for drug treatment than four years ago, including an expansion of primary adult care to include substance abuse treatment, expanding buprenorphine treatment for heroine addiction, and expanding utilization of pharmacotherapy including mobile treatment.

Maryland currently has 40 operational drug courts serving approximately 5,000 people and last year, there were over 6,100 methadone treatment slots available in the State. Under the O’Malley-Brown Administration, the State has also increased treatment capacity inside state prisons by nearly 300 percent.

Source: Office of Governor O’Malley

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