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Strategies to Combat Opioid Epidemic Recommended by Washington State AG, State Patrol, and Prosecutors

Posted Friday, February 23, 2018 by Lizanne Padula.

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The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) declared the nation’s opioid crisis a public health emergency. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 91 Americans die each day from opioid overdoses. On average, two people die each day from opioid overdoses in Washington state, and tens of thousands of others struggle with addiction.

Recently, Attorney General Bob Ferguson, joined by the Washington State Patrol and the Washington Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, released a report recommending strategies to combat the opioid epidemic. The report entitled Reducing the Illegal Supply of Opioids in Washington State recommends a comprehensive approach to the problem that addresses prevention, treatment, and enforcement. The report was developed by the AG’s Office, Washington State Patrol, and the Washington Association of Prosecuting Attorneys based on information shared at the Summit on Reducing the Supply of Opioids in Washington State in June 2017.

The report states that it “sets out decisive, evidence-based recommendations that policymakers should adopt to curb the tragic effects of this problem.” AG Ferguson is planning to propose three opioid-related bills to the Legislature in January. One bill is to require health care providers to check the state’s prescription-monitoring database before prescribing opioids. The second bill will seek to limit the number of opioids a provider can initially prescribe. And the third bill will give the Attorney General’s Office Medicaid Fraud Control Unit more authority to investigate and prosecute opioid-related Medicaid fraud cases. The proposed legislation is to be consistent with and based on the report’s recommendations.

Other recommendations in the report include expanding law enforcement assisted diversion programs designed to divert those arrested for nonviolent offenses into treatment and enhanced penalties for trafficking strong synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl. The report also recommends the creation of Drug Courts because they can reduce prison sentences for those who receive drug treatment.

Defending Against Charges for Drug Related Crimes

If you are facing criminal charges for drug related crimes, your life and freedom are on the line. At Padula & Associates, LLC we understand what is at stake, and we will zealously defend you against any criminal charges filed against you.

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