Ehrlich creates drug-treatment council


GAITHERSBURG - Saying Maryland is in the midst of a drug epidemic, Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. announced yesterday the creation of a new council to coordinate treatment and prevention services across the state.

Retired Maryland Court of Special Appeals Judge Andrew L. Sonner was named chairman of the council, which Ehrlich said would seek ways to more effectively address problems that stem from substance abuse.

"The fact is, treatment works," Ehrlich said during a visit to the Parole and Probation Division's field office in Gaithersburg.

He added, "I'm looking forward to my state being the leader in the U.S. in how we handle the drug problem."

The state council is to serve as a link with drug and alcohol abuse councils in local subdivisions.

It will set goals and measure progress to make sure programs are working.

Sonner, 70, said the state council would work closely with law enforcement to insure that treatment and prevention programs are successful.

"We have an opportunity here to marry the law enforcement community with the treatment community," Sonner said. "In the past, there has been some hostility."

Ehrlich's budget for this year included $127 million in state and federal funds for community-based programs to combat alcohol and drug abuse.

The governor also designated $1.2 million for a program to treat nonviolent offenders during their time in prison.

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