Governors sign compact to fight opioid addiction

Forty-six governors have signed the Compact to Fight Opioid Addiction, developed by and released on July 13 by the National Governors Association (NGA).

By signing the compact, governors are agreeing to redouble their efforts to fight the opioid epidemic with new steps to reduce inappropriate prescribing, change the nation’s understanding of opioids and addiction and ensure a pathway to recovery for individuals suffering from addiction.   

This marks the first time in more than 10 years that governors have developed a compact through NGA to spur coordinated action on an urgent national issue.  

“Bringing governors together around core strategies to end the opioid epidemic adds momentum behind state efforts and sends a clear signal to opioid prescribers and others whose leadership is critical to saving lives,” said Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, chair of the NGA Health and Human Services Committee. “Massachusetts is proud to bring our plans to the table for other states as we work collaboratively to find meaningful solutions to this public health crisis.”  

The compact stems from a resolution governors passed in February at their Winter Meeting, where they outlined the need for federal action to support states and collaboration from the private sector, particularly when it comes to reducing inappropriate opioid prescribing, a key driver of an epidemic that claims the lives of roughly 78 Americans every day. Though the discussion focused on opioid prescribing guidelines, governors agreed that broader collective action is needed to address all of the factors contributing to the crisis. 

“Opioid addiction is harming communities, people and families in every corner of our nation and our state," Washington Governor Jay Inslee said. "About 600 people die every year in Washington state from opioid overdose." 
“While governors urge Congress to step up efforts to prevent inappropriate prescribing of opioids and provide more access to treatment and recovery support programs, we are taking significant steps – and plan to do even more – in Washington state to educate doctors and provide treatment services to patients in pain or who may be addicted to painkillers or heroin. I am proud that our health care leaders across the state have come together to try to solve this problem. One such leader, Dr. Gary Franklin, the chair of our state Agency Medical Directors Group, has been invited by my colleagues and will present our state’s leading work on this important issue at this week’s NGA meeting.”

New warning label for marijuana edibles
developed by Washington Poison Center

The Washington Poison Center has unveiled its chosen warning symbol for identifying marijuana edible products at a Liquor and Cannabis Board meeting. The Washington Poison Center (WAPC) developed the warning symbol as a deterrent for children who may access edible marijuana products purchased by adults in their home. 
Not for Kids 800-222-1222

“For over 60 years the Washington Poison Center has been a vital community resource providing free medical help and tools for parents to protect their families,” said Carrie Ulvestad, WAPC’s executive director. “We are excited to present the new Not for Kids warning label which was created with input from cannabis industry leaders and prevention professionals across the state.”

“The number of calls to the Washington Poison Center related to marijuana exposures reached a single-year high in 2015 with 272 calls,” said WAPC’s clinical managing director, Dr. Alexander Garrard. “With more than 150 calls already this year, it is our hope that the Not for Kids label and our increased education efforts will equip parents and caregivers with the tools to have a conversation with their loved ones ages 1 to 21. Most importantly the label includes our 1-800-222-1222 emergency helpline number, a free, confidential resource for all ages.”

The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (Board) will include the warning symbol on all edible products in its draft rules. The Board is expected to file draft rules Aug. 10, 2016.

Washington's youth marijuana use prevention
efforts featured on TVW's
The Impact

A survey scheduled for this fall will reveal whether marijuana use among Washington youth is on the rise, state officials say.

Although the hope is that marijuana use among teens will stay flat – as shown in a 2014 survey – or even decline, the “predictors are that it will go up,” said Michael Langer, prevention and treatment supervisor for the Division of Behavioral Health and Recovery at DSHS. That is because as the so-called “perception of harm” with marijuana, as with any drug, goes down, its use will often rise. Langer said that the lower perception of harm seems to pre-date the legalization of marijuana for adult recreational use, tying it instead to the legalization of marijuana for medical use some years before.
Langer and Steve Smothers, marijuana education and prevention manager for the Washington Department of Health, appeared on TVW’s The Impact to speak about youth substance abuse issues and the Healthy Youth Survey, taken every two years by 220,000 middle and high school age students.

Smothers cautions that there is “a lot of misinformation out there” and while more research needs to be done, “we as educators need to educate people about the risks of marijuana.”

When show host Anita Kissée asked what the state is doing to prevent youth use, Smothers pointed to the recent launch of the youth-focused web site that explains how marijuana might hamper a youth’s chances of fulfilling goals like a college degree or athletic achievements. Langer pointed to efforts by a multi-agency healthy youth coalition and the web site that educates parents on how to talk to their children about alcohol and marijuana use.

“Grade school is not too early,” Langer said. The state hosts two youth-focused events, the Spring Youth Forum and the Washington Prevention Summit in the fall, that brings teams together to showcase youth prevention efforts.

Results from the 2016 Healthy Youth Survey are expected to be made public in early 2017 after data is collected and analyzed.


Mentioned in the Media

Heroin overdose death rates rising faster
in Snohomish than King, Pierce counties
Deaths from heroin overdoses have gone up across Washington state, but in Snohomish County, the rates have gone up more than in King or Pierce Counties, states a July 13 report from KUOW.

Los Angeles Times
How black-market OxyContin spurred a town's
descent into crime, addiction and heartbreak
A new investigative report by the LA Times details how organized drug rings colluded with rogue doctors and pharmacies to deliver large amounts of illicit OxyContin to Everett and Snohomish County. The result has been widespread addiction not only to the painkiller OxyContin, but subsequently to heroin as well as people from all walks of life have made the transition to the less expensive drug from Oxy.

The report features several people who became hooked on OxyContin and how they lives - and those of their families - have been impacted. Read the full dispatch in the Los Angeles Times' story originally published on July 10.    

The Olympian and Tacoma News Tribune
State’s experiment with medical
marijuana paved way for legalization
The decision by Washington voters to legalize marijuana as medicine took root in the fall of 1998 — the season when Initiative 692 became law. That makes the state’s experiment with legal medical marijuana almost 18 years old, a tumultuous age for humans and, as it turns out, an industry being forced to go legit as the state folds medical pot into the regulated system for recreational marijuana Friday. (Read the full story by Kirk Ericson in the Olympia published June 28). 

Read more here:

Office of National Drug Control Policy