Maryland Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ben Jealous. (Brian Witte/AP)

Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Ben Jealous has proposed a wide-ranging plan to address Maryland's opioid epidemic, promising a crackdown on drug companies and pill mills, rapid-response teams to help communities deal with sudden spikes in overdoses and an increase in the number of 24-hour crisis centers.

The proposals, unveiled Friday in a 13-page document, include making overdose-reversal drugs more accessible in public places, ramping up addiction treatment for inmates, expanding alternatives to incarceration for low-level drug offenses and creating a state office focused on overseeing many opioid-related initiatives and developing additional strategies.

Jealous, a former NAACP president who is among eight Democrats vying to challenge Gov. Larry Hogan (R) in 2018, did not provide a cost estimate for the initiatives, but said he would tap the state's $860 million rainy day fund to help pay for them in the short term.

“We’re prepared to go into the rainy day fund just as we would with any other unforeseen disaster,” he said in an interview Thursday.

Jealous said he would file suit against drug companies that he believes have contributed to the opioid crisis with practices such as deceptive marketing, and use any money gained from those lawsuits to replenish the rainy day fund and pay for future anti-addiction efforts. He also pledged to establish a task force focused on rooting out doctors, clinics and pharmacies that write unnecessary opioid prescriptions.

Opioid-related overdose fatalities have skyrocketed in recent years in Maryland and across the country. During the first half of 2017, the state had 1,029 such deaths, more than triple the number from the same period in 2012.

The other Democratic candidates for Maryland governor are Prince George's County Executive Rushern L. Baker III, Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, state Sen. Richard S. Madaleno Jr. (Montgomery), policy consultant Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, tech entrepreneur Alec Ross, lawyer Jim Shea and Krishanti Vignarajah, a policy aide to former first lady Michelle Obama.