In a letter sent last week to Speaker Rosenberger and other state leaders*, Rep. Greta Johnson (D-Akron) called on the legislature to convene a task force or special legislative committee to establish a unified statewide strategy for addressing heroin and fentanyl addiction and abuse in the state. The letter comes amidst numerous overdoses that claimed the lives of citizens in Akron last week and in Columbus over the weekend.
“We have begun to address the opiate addiction epidemic destroying our communities, but not at a rate fast enough or with an approach thoughtful and thorough enough to successfully reduce the pain and burdens faced by families and communities across the state,” said Johnson. “We must bring everyone to the table – elected officials, lawmakers, law enforcement and healthcare professionals, advocates, and community members to coordinate an effective and unified strategy to take back our state.”
In the past year, lawmakers have introduced numerous pieces of legislation aimed at curbing the opiate addiction epidemic and even passed measures to increase access to Naloxone and provide immunity from prosecution to individuals who report drug overdoses. However, the Summit County lawmaker is calling for a more organized, cohesive approach to passing legislation on opiate addiction and abuse.
“State efforts in the battle against opiate addiction have so far have been narrowly focused and at times contradictory,” Johnson added. “We can continue to throw what we have at the wall to see what sticks, or we can buckle down and work together to craft a unified vision on how to combat heroin and fentanyl abuse in Ohio.”
The Summit County lawmaker says state efforts in the past have proved to be short-lived and failed to bring all interested parties together to create a unified strategy to address the Buckeye State’s opioid epidemic head on.