HOPE Act announced to fight back against opioid epidemic


WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The battle against opioids continues in our area, but is there hope? Attorney Josh Stein thinks so. He was in Wilmington Thursday and took time to talk about a new initiative to reduce supply and demand. The HOPE Act, also known as the Heroin and Opioid Prevention and Enforcement Act will strengthen law enforcement efforts to combat this ongoing issue.

“We don’t want people recklessly killing our folks,” Stein said.

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Whether it is drug dealers or doctors, a new bill would go after both in an effort to crack down on the opioid crisis.

“This is going to give law enforcement more tools so they can effectively stem the flow of pharmaceuticals to the legal drug trade. It’s going to create new felonies to attack the problem of healthcare providers stealing medication and selling it on our streets. And it expresses a clear intention that we need to appropriate money for treatment,” Stein said.

The bill will also fund an additional SBI agent to coordinate drug investigations. Wilmington Police Chief Ralph Evangelous said it is important for the community to get behind this act.

“We’ve got to pass this legislation. We’ve got to realize, we lost 64,000, 64,000 people in the country last year more than the entire Vietnam War. One year 64,000 people died from opioid overdoses. When are we going to say enough’s enough,” Evangelous said.

Stein said reducing the demand for these drugs is necessary and putting more money into treatment resources is vital.

“The biggest thing is it expresses an intent to the legislature to fund treatment. I feel like the legislature missed an opportunity this year, I’ll be frank. They didn’t fund more treatment programs, but they made clear in the bill that in next year’s budget they want at least $10 million to be focused on community based treatment and recovery services,” Stein said.

Stein said he hopes the new act will pass legislation within the next few weeks. He also said people should reach out to their legislator and tell them to support the bill.