David Pepper, the Democratic candidate for Ohio attorney general, proposed a comprehensive approach Wednesday to combating a rise in heroin use in Ohio.
Mr. Pepper, a former Hamilton County commissioner, said the spike in heroin abuse in Ohio has coincided with a cut in state aid for local governments, reducing their ability to combat the spread of the drug.
“Our plan is, frankly, about changing that, and bringing back funds to the local level and having the attorney general be a real partner with local governments in dealing with this,” he said.
Mr. Pepper, who hopes to unseat Attorney General Mike DeWine, presented his plan outside the Lucas County Courthouse.
The largest part of Mr. Pepper’s plan is to deal with heroin abuse as a criminal issue and a public health concern. Enforcement should be paired with treatment and education to help reduce demand for the drug, he said.
Carol Contrada, president of the Lucas County commissioners, said many of those who become addicted to heroin started as abusers of prescription drugs.
The commissioners will pass a resolution April 22 calling for heightened awareness of prescription drug abuse and they will designate the first Fridays of May and October as prescription drug abuse awareness days.
Mr. Pepper said some companies over-marketed prescription drugs, and part of the spike in heroin use was caused by people who were given prescription pills they didn’t need. He pledged to pursue litigation against those companies and use those funds to help pay for treatment efforts.
Mr. Pepper also said he would help local prosecutors investigate overdose cases so they could then charge heroin dealers with homicides.