- Associated Press - Friday, February 5, 2016

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - A Maryland lawmaker on Friday proposed decriminalizing possession of small amounts of all illicit drugs like heroin and cocaine.

Del. Dan Morhaim, a physician who has treated patients in emergency rooms, outlined four measures he believes could alleviate the ravages of drug addiction. He said it’s important to recognize that the “so-called war on drugs is not working.”

“After 50-plus years of trying, we are worse off than when we started, and the toll is immense,” Morhaim said at a news conference.

In 2013, Maryland decriminalized possession of less than 10 grams of marijuana. Civil penalties include $100 for a first offense, $250 for a second offense and $500 for a third offense.

Morhaim, D-Baltimore County, is proposing the following four bills:

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ADDICTION TREATMENT

One measure would require acute care hospitals to have an addiction treatment counselor available or on call at all times to patients in emergency rooms. It also would require the hospitals to have defined arrangements for transfer to appropriate detoxification and rehabilitation care services.

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SAFE CONSUMPTION

Another bill backed by Morhaim would allow the establishment of safe consumption programs. They would allow people to use drugs in a safe place that would provide sterile equipment and connect patients to treatment, medical care and other social services.

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ASSISTED TREATMENT

Morhaim also is introducing a bill directing the state health department to review research proposals to support a poly-morphone-assisted treatment pilot project. Poly-morphone-assisted treatment refers to dispensing pharmaceutical-grade heroin or other opioids to a small group of heroin users in a clinic who were previously unresponsive to drug treatment.

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DECRIMINALIZING

Another bill Morhaim is sponsoring would decriminalize small amounts of illicit drugs for personal use.

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