By RYAN DUNN
Fighting Ohio’s heroin epidemic requires more than town hall meetings and a small drug unit, a Democratic candidate for state attorney general said Wednesday.
David Pepper, of Cincinnati, detailed his proposal to curb heroin abuse during a meeting with members of The Courier.
He advocated a stronger response to an “entirely predictable” problem.
Pepper’s plan includes a collaborative heroin task force, stronger penalties for traffickers, and additional addiction treatment.
“If you look at other states, they’re in solution mode right now, and we’re not,” Pepper said.
The heroin crisis accelerated after law enforcement stamped out “pill mills” in 2010, Pepper said. Addicts then sought cheap heroin after finding limited treatment was available for pill addiction, he said.
The attorney general’s office should have regularly held forums three years ago as the crisis exploded, he said.
“It’s time for answers and solutions to help the local communities,” he said.
Pepper suggested tracking fatal overdoses, and stronger sentences for those traffickers.
He also advocated better funding for treatment programs that work.
As attorney general, Pepper said he would do a better job of collecting information on drug prevalence and informing law enforcement. It’s necessary as drug dealers grow more sophisticated, he said.
Attorney General Mike DeWine’s $1 million special heroin unit is too vague in its mission, Pepper said. It also comes after the state took back so much local funding, Pepper said.
“I think for the largest crisis, in terms of law enforcement, that this state faces right now, citizens deserve a lot more than town hall meetings and a unit whose purpose can’t even be described,” Pepper said.
Pepper previously served as a Cincinnati councilman and Hamilton County commissioner.
He criticized DeWine for acting in too partisan of a manner as attorney general. DeWine, a Republican, should have spoken out against Senate Bill 5, the law limiting collective bargaining that was later repealed by Ohio voters.
“The people’s attorney is supposed to speak up on these type of issues,” Pepper said.
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