A bill has passed in NH that will grant $1.5 million to law enforcement agencies battling the state’s opioid crisis.
The bill, also known as Operation Granite Hammer, cracks down on dealers selling illicit opioids. Increased police activity and harsher sentences are in store for those dealing drugs like heroin and opioid pain pills.
Hassan released a statement showing her support for the bill, and offered support for future bills which would fund treatment and prevention programs.
“Last fall, I proposed comprehensive legislation to give patients, providers, educators, parents and law enforcement better tools in the fight against substance misuse, including expanding Operation Granite Hammer statewide. I have signed a number of bipartisan bills reflecting that proposal, and after today’s strong bipartisan vote, I am pleased to have now also signed this measure to support law enforcement in communities across the state through Operation Granite Hammer. I also look forward to signing measures providing $5 million to support prevention, treatment, recovery and supportive housing and upgrading the technology for our prescription drug monitoring program when they reach my desk.”
According to the Union Leader, the bill was slow to pass through the House, which voted 235-74. The bill then went to the Senate, who gave a swift approval of 22-0. Maggie Hassan signed the bill that day, giving it the green light.
Opioid addiction has brutalized the Granite State in recent years. According to the Concord Monitor, New Hampshire has the third-highest drug deaths per-capita in the nation. One drug is causing worrying waves in the opioid addiction battle. That drug is fentanyl.
Fentanyl is a dangerously potent opioid used for terminally ill patients. It’s also used in patients that have a resistance to other opioid painkillers. Recently, fentanyl has been attributed to hundreds of deaths in NH.
Fentanyl is deadly because it is undetectable when mixed with heroin. Heroin users will buy their product, in the dark about whether fentanyl is in the mixture. When the fentanyl-laced product is used, the potency is overwhelming, often causing an overdose.
In her statement, Hassan mentioned the hazards of fentanyl:
“Thanks to our bipartisan work this session, we are cracking down on fentanyl, streamlining access to treatment, improving our prescription drug monitoring program, updating the rules on opioid prescribing, educating our young people about the dangers of substance misuse and providing additional resources to help those battling this crisis on the front lines save lives. Expanding Operation Granite Hammer statewide is an important part of our comprehensive approach to combat the heroin and opioid crisis, and we can now begin to work with local police departments across the state to provide this critical support.”
Some are skeptical about the release of funding to law enforcement agencies, finding it reminiscent to Nixon’s War on Drugs, which many argue was a failure.
NHPR’s issued an article called “As N.H. Scales Up Its Battle Against Drugs, Will History Repeat Itself?” tackling this very question.
Will harsher prison sentences and more police activity help stifle the opioid crisis, or will the epidemic of addiction perpetuate despite the increased funding?