Montana Attorney General Tim Fox announced a new initiative on Wednesday aimed at cutting down on substance abuse in the state.
Fox took to the steps of the state Capitol to introduce the plan, called “Aid Montana: Addressing the Impact of Drugs,” with some of his colleagues and state lawmakers on hand.
“Aid Montana will be a comprehensive approach to addressing Montana’s substance abuse problem. While law enforcement will certainly be one method of addressing substance abuse in Montana, it certainly isn’t the only approach. Treatment, education and coordination efforts are critical if we are to get ahead of this problem, and will be central components to our strategy,” said Fox.
The Attorney General’s Office said 1 in 10 Montanans is dependent on or abusing alcohol or drugs.
According to the initiative, between 2011 and 2013 at least 369 prescription drug deaths were reported in Montana. And in the state, the rate of overdose deaths has doubled since 2000.
The report stated that 53 percent of all Division of Criminal Investigations drug cases were meth related, citing that meth prices are at an all-time low making it readily available.
They also cited that 18 percent of all arrests are drug related.
The DOJ will partner with the Montana Healthcare Foundation, as part of the new initiative to include a number of listening sessions across the state and a summit in the fall, with the intention of bringing information to the next legislative session in 2019 to combat the state’s drug problem.
“We want to bring them a road map that outlines what needs to be done at the legislative level to efficiently and effectively combat this problem. Whether it be shifting resources to find where they are most effective or changing laws to better reflect the reality of the problem, we want policy makers to have a clear understanding of what needs to be done,” said Fox.
The Attorney General said the initiative will be paid for in part by the Department of Justice budget, as well as $3 million in grants from the Montana Healthcare Foundation.
The DOJ also reported that of Montanans between the ages of 18 and 25, one in four have used illicit drugs in the last month.
23 percent are currently using marijuana and 9 percent reported in the last month that they used pain killers for non-medical purposes.