ANDERSON – Problems with drugs and related crimes are not going to get any better in the near future, Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill said.
Hill spoke Tuesday at the annual Republican Lincoln Day dinner in which former Indiana State Police Superintendent John Shettle received the club’s Lincoln Award.
The attorney general, who took office in January, said he planned to be engaged daily with what is taking place in the state.
“A serious issue is crime and drugs,” he said.
Hill was critical of efforts to legalize marijuana in Indiana for medical use.
“People are saying it’s time to legalize marijuana,” he said. “Do you want more children smoking dope?”
Hill said the argument that legalizing marijuana will increase tax revenues has not proven to be the case in Colorado where there is a huge black market in the dealing of the drug to avoid paying taxes.
“People that start on marijuana progress to more dangerous drugs,” he said. “There is opiate abuse and the overprescribing of pain killers which is leading to an increase in heroin use.”
The state needs a comprehensive plan to stop the flow of drugs into the state, treatment programs and, most importantly, prevention, Hill said.
“Madison County is hit as hard as any place,” he said.
Hill said there are consequences of the needle exchange programs that were started in Madison County and other counties to control HIV and hepatitis C.
“The exchange rate in Madison County is 50 percent,” he said. “That means twice as many needles are going out as coming back in.”
Hill said the opiate antidote naloxone can bring a person back from a drug overdose, but the problem is that the same person is being saved continually.
“In Scott County, prior to the needle exchange program, the average user was shooting up five times a day,” he said. “After the needle exchange program, the average user is shooting up nine times a day.”
Hill said the drug abusers know if they overdose they can get the life-saving opiod antidote and are receiving free needles; in Madison County, the users are also getting a spoon for cooking the drugs.
“We have to fully examine how to get this right,” Hill said. “Everyone has to understand what is going on. This is a deepening problem that is going to get worse.”
Hill said prevention is not a quick fix and that it’s a generational problem relating directly to what is not happening in homes.
“Kids need someone in their lives they don’t want to disappoint,” he said. “Kids between 12 and 18 are falling in the gaps. They don’t want to disappoint the drug dealers, the person abusing women, and people breaking into homes.”
Mentors keep children off that pattern of drug abuse and criminal behavior, Hill said.
“We need a long-term strategy,” he said. “We can’t save the drug users. I’m a realist."