SALEM, Ore.– Oregon State Representative Maxine Dexter is not only a state lawmaker.  She’s also a pulmonologist specializing in lung illnesses. “I’ve had enormous opportunity to make some meaningful achievements. But I think the one that I hold closest and the one I’m most proud of is our opioid harm reduction package.”

She says she started to work on that package of Oregon laws after a moment she will never forget. “Me seeing in the hospital a young person who had unintentionally overdosed with a counterfeit oxycontin pill that was laced with fentanyl.”   He was a teenager the same age as her own son.

“He was at a party. His friends were there. They had no idea that they needed to call 911. And once they realized they should have, they were too scared. “

She was part of a team in the state legislature. “Broad, really bipartisan.  We had law enforcement. We had opioid harm reduction clinics. We had health care providers across the state and we did things like decriminalize fentanyl test strips so that the University of Oregon students who couldn’t hand them out now can.”

There were 13 policies in the package, which passed with bipartisan support.

“We got NARCAN into the public schools. And now we know that parents are getting educated about NARCAN while they also are giving consent effectively to let it be given to their children should they be in a crisis. We have first responders who are compassion fatigued at times being able to give out not just administer, but actually give the Narcan to people after they’ve been resuscitated.”

Now Representative Dexter is running to replace the retiring Congressman Earl Blumenauer in Oregon’s District 3.

“I very much hope to take that same package to Washington,” Dexter says.

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