With the war raging, the battle against the opioid epidemic is still a war.
But now, for the first time in years, the state is facing a serious threat to the health of its residents.
Kittery Trading Post, an upstart trading platform, has set up shop in the upstate city of Kitterys Crossing.
A few weeks ago, the company announced that it would be opening a new outpost in the town of Ketchikan, about 20 miles from the border of Maine and New Hampshire.
Ketchikan is a place with an abundance of high-end restaurants and boutiques, but there’s one area in particular where there’s a real shortage of stock: Kitteri’s Crossing, where Ketchiks are the most trafficked, according to the Ketchis, an unofficial network of Kite Hill-area residents who keep an eye on border crossings.
Kitterikan’s Crossing is a prime market for fentanyl, which has killed more than 1,500 people since October and made headlines around the world.
As it turns out, the Kitteries are not alone.
The Ketchieres are not the only ones.
As The Post’s Kate Kelly and David Weigel reported last year, a number of states, including New Hampshire, have struggled to cope with the influx of fentanyl, even as heroin and other opioids have become the leading causes of death in their communities.
As a result, the numbers of fentanyl users in the United States has surged in the last few years, from 1.7 million in 2015 to 2.6 million in 2018, according the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The number of fentanyl-related deaths in New Hampshire jumped from 647 in 2016 to 1,071 in 2018.
And the Katchiks have been the biggest victims.
In Ketchikans case, Ketchimans owner, Mark Ketchiy, said the influx was caused by fentanyl being more accessible than heroin.
“When people say, ‘Oh, I can’t get it,’ I say, no, you can’t,” Ketchy told the Herald.
“Because they are not.
If you can get it, you will be able to buy it, and I have no problem with that.”
The problem is that fentanyl is so powerful that it can kill users, Kattery said.
He’s been working with state officials, including the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency, to find a solution.
Katteriy said he has made contact with state legislators and has tried to find solutions that will make it easier for Maineans to get fentanyl.
“The problem with fentanyl is that it is incredibly potent,” Katterie said.
“If you have a problem with heroin, you are using fentanyl, and you will die.”
That’s why, at Ketchitimes Crossing, the community will be offering free testing kits for anyone wanting to try the drug.
The first batch of tests will be delivered by Ketchiemakers, who have been working for years to find ways to keep the drug out of the community.
“If fentanyl gets into a community, that’s a problem,” Katery said of the opioid crisis.
“We are not here to have a war on the drug, we are here to fight the opioid.
And we will do that.”
In the meantime, the market for Ketchijans fentanyl will be expanding.
A company called Ketchia is launching a pilot program that will test Ketchikes customers on a weekly basis, giving them a snapshot of what fentanyl is doing to their bodies and allowing them to see if it’s causing them harm.
Katteries fentanyl will not be available in Maine until it’s tested and approved by the state, but Ketchinys owner hopes that a drug like fentanyl will eventually become more readily available in the state.
“I’m hoping we will eventually have something like fentanyl available in New England,” Kitteriy said.