LIMA — If mayoral candidate Josh Hayes ends up winning city hall next November, Lima could have its own currency.
The proposal was just one of many during a campaign event held Wednesday night where Hayes laid out his five-point plan to end the city’s ongoing opioid problem. While many of his proposals stemmed from mainstream ideas, he also expanded on a set of solutions that differ dramatically from the ways local and state governments are currently addressing the increase in opioid overdoses seen in the last decade.
Specifically, Hayes introduced his ideas with five overarching proposals: creating a public awareness campaign about opioids, expanding health treatment methods around a more holistic approach, instituting a local currency to make these treatment methods more affordable, encouraging the growth of holistic businesses and rebuilding the city’s housing stock and community areas.
“Our current systems have reached critical mass. We must change the way we’re doing things,” Hayes said. “It’s time to bring effective solutions to the forefront and put the backing of a focused and informed government behind it. I’m ready — not only to organize a concentrated effort to relieve the opiate epidemic — but I believe that we can create a city known for health and wellness. It’s time for the last to become the first.”
Hayes also introduced his plans to put a marijuana decriminalization referendum on the May ballot, and he said that he is currently getting the required number of signatures to do so. City charter requires that any petition be “ten (10) percent of the total vote cast in the last preceding regular Municipal election of the City.”
“Cannabis is a safe alternative to opioids for pain relief, and it states where it has been decriminalized, prescription drug and alcohol sales have decreased. It is also effective for a variety of other ailments, including PTSD, cancer, fibromyalgia, Irritable Bowel Disease, Alzheimer’s disease and a slew of mental health conditions.” Hayes said. “In addition to allowing people to use cannabis without the fear of criminal prosecution, we plan to create a city-sponsored local apothecary group.”
Hayes explained that these groups would then set up neighborhood markets where people could purchase “nutritious staple foods like healthy bread, local honey, vitamin supplements and herbs.” He proposed using “Lima dollars” to make these foods affordable to any Lima resident.
“Most people now are in a position to take what is offered for free through their medical insurance, than to purchase something that contributes to their health and wellness. It’s time to level the playing field. I propose a local currency that is based on health and wellness, a local influx of cash to our citizens in the form of Lima dollars that can only be spent at the city-sponsored wellness sites,” Hayes said.
The number of opioid deaths in Ohio peaked to 4,293 back in 2017. As Narcan became more available and support services were put in place, mental health officials celebrated the resulting decline in deaths in 2018. Now, mental health officials expect 2020’s numbers to show an increase due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.