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CD8 candidate Sandman would target funds to opioid crisis

Ray "Skip" Sandman

Ray "Skip" Sandman finished his career working as a cultural advisor in a treatment center, so voters would guess right to think he's got something to say about the opioid epidemic.

A Vietnam War veteran and Independence Party candidate in the race for the open seat in the 8th Congressional District, Sandman was on the road Wednesday when the GOP's Pete Stauber and DFL's Joe Radinovich sparred over how to address opioid deaths and addiction.

"I have spent many years working with addicts in a treatment setting and I am currently involved in Natives Against Heroin," Sandman said Thursday. "When I enter office ... I will be putting a priority on the war against opioids."

He called addiction "a disease," and said he stood for lifting the associated shame and stigma. He wants to fund further studies into understanding addiction and the cultural trauma which leads to higher percentages of addicts among Native Americans and African Americans.

In a position paper shared by the campaign, Sandman says the criminal justice system has failed to deal with the problem. He called it "wasted time." He stressed using alternative methods to address chronic pain. "As a congressman I will prioritize funding top-notch substance abuse programs, focused on prevention, treatment, relapse prevention and well-regulate methadone treatment when (it's) called for," Sandman said.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed this week that more than 72,000 people died of overdose in 2017 — more than two-thirds from opioids in the form of prescription painkillers or heroin.

Calling the opioid crisis a public health issue, Sandman added, "It needs to be treated like one."