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Portland bar ready to open with controversial name

The owner of the new bar named "Opium" says he believes the name reflects relaxation and luxury. (WGME)

PORTLAND (WGME) – A new Portland bar named after an addictive drug is causing some controversy, some saying it exploits Maine’s opioid epidemic.

The owner of the new bar named "Opium" says he believes the name reflects relaxation and luxury, and despite the backlash, he stills plans to open Opium this June as planned inside the Danforth Inn.

Inside, the owners say they hoped to create an atmosphere similar to a Shanghai opium den from the 1920s, but that's not sitting well with many, who say they’re exploiting or even celebrating the addictive powers of opium and heroin as drugs.

Last year, more than 350 people died from opioid overdoses in Maine.

The owner of the bar says they tested the name in Portland and other major cities and got a positive response, and says he hopes the name Opium will help the crisis here in Maine rather than hurt it

The owners say they've helped support a new drug rehab center in Camden in the past year.

A number of drug advocates we spoke with say they hope the name won't lead to more drug use.

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