White House opioid commission calls for changes to anti-drug policies


President Donald Trump’s commission on the opioid crisis called Wednesday for a nationwide system of drug courts and easier access to alternatives to opioids for people in pain, part of a wide-ranging menu of upgrades it said are needed to curb the opioid epidemic.

The commission, headed by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), called for expanding drug courts – an alternative system that tries to channel substance abusers accused of crimes into treatment – into all 93 federal court jurisdictions.

The report came six days after Trump declared the opioid crisis a “public health emergency,” which the commission had urged in its interim report released in July. That designation allows Trump to direct all federal agencies to speed aid to cities and states in the grip of what he called “the worst drug crisis in American history.”

Related: Why aren’t we talking about medical marijuana to help the opioid crisis?

One important step he signaled was a decision to have the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services waive a 1970s-era policy that blocked Medicaid payments to inpatient treatment facilities with more than 16 substance-abuse beds. That should make treatment more widely available. Trump also said the Postal Service and the Department of Homeland Security are strengthening package inspections in an attempt to reduce the flow of the street drug fentanyl, much of which is synthesized in China, sent to the United States and mixed with powdered heroin by dealers.

Trump suggested that the federal government might file suit against companies he called “bad actors,” presumably those in the pharmaceutical industry that have allowed painkillers to reach the black market. Private attorneys have already filed some lawsuits, and a coalition of 41 state attorneys general is investigating the role of some companies in the epidemic.

Read the rest of this story at TheCannabist.co


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