The Trump administration addressed the national opioid crisis with proposals to limit the production of prescription opioids and to make regulatory increases to the amount of marijuana grown for medical research. This week, The Way takes a closer look at these two policies.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) proposed a reduction for controlled substances that may be manufactured in the U.S. next year. Consistent with President Trump's Safe Prescribing Plan, which seeks to cut nationwide opioid prescription fills by one-third within three years, the DOJ/DEA proposal decreases manufacturing quotas for the six most frequently misused opioids for 2019 by an average of ten percent as compared to the 2018 amount.
IN THE WAKE OF
The administration's move comes as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported a record number of Americans, 72,000, died as a result of drug overdoses in 2017. This CDC figure represents a 10 percent increase over 2016, including a significant spike in deaths related to synthetic opioids like fentanyl. Last year, according to National Institute of Drug Abuse, synthetic opioids caused 30,000 overdose deaths, up from 5,000 in 2014. Across the United States, epidemiologists at the University of Southern California and Princeton University reported a decline in U.S. life expectancy, largely driven by increases in drug overdose deaths related to the opioid epidemic. The human costs of the epidemic, coupled with its estimated economic loss of at least $500 billion, moved the administration to action.
And speaking of action, during a cabinet meeting at the White House, President Trump asked Attorney General Jeff Sessions to bring a "major class action lawsuit" against drug companies. President Trump wants the attorney general to bring the suit at the federal level, rather than join existing litigation brought by states. More to come on this front.
A GROWING TREND
And finally this week, the U.S. DEA is expected to initiate rulemaking that will quintuple the amount of cannabis that can legally be grown in the U.S. for research purposes - from roughly 1,000 pounds in 2018 to more than 5,400 pounds next year. The DEA says that the proposed quota on cannabis and prescription meds reflects the total amount of controlled substances necessary to meet the country's medical, scientific, research, industrial, and export needs. Federal drug policy remains among the most pressing legislative and regulatory issues facing our industry. We will continue to keep you updated as developments come our way.
In related news, Oregon OSHA will host a safety forum for cannabis growers and extractors, called "Safety and Health in the Cannabis Industry: From Seed to Shatter." The event is part of a two-day event in Bend, Oregon. The session will feature speakers from Oregon OSHA, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC), Oregon Department of Agriculture, the Portland and Bend fire departments, and Oregon-based grow and extraction operations. Topics will include Cannabis growing operations, Hydrocarbon extraction, Fire marshal regulations, Pesticide regulations, and Ergonomic risk factors.
DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
Meanwhile, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) rolled out a new safety campaign this week to combat the emerging trend of drug-impaired driving. NHTSA is reminding people that drug-impaired driving is just as dangerous as driving drunk. The campaign will run through the Labor Day holiday weekend, which is one of the deadliest times on U.S. roads. NHTSA warns, "[i]f you feel different, you drive different. Drive high, get a DUI."
Making Our Way Around the Country
Bi-partisan legislation awaiting action by Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner would reform the Illinois Insurance Code's regulatory framework for captive insurance companies and drop the Prairie State's current premium tax rate on self-procured insurance. The governor has until August 28th to sign or veto Senate Bill 1737, a measure that garnered support from the Illinois Department of Insurance, key industry groups, and several large Illinois-based taxpayers. The bill follows the lead of multiple jurisdictions, including Vermont, Hawaii, South Carolina, and the District of Columbia, which paved the way for domestic captive insurance growth.
In Boise this week, the Idaho Industrial Commission posted a pair of memos. The first memo reconciles the state's position on prompt claims servicing. The Industrial Commission clarifies that, unless a denial is issued within twenty-eight (28) days of the date of disability, income benefits must be started. The deadline for issuance of income benefits may arrive before the claims administrator's thirty (30) days to determine compensability has expired. The investigation may continue beyond the thirty (30) day deadline as long as voluntary payments are made while the determination to accept or deny the claim is made. The second memo discusses the process by which employers can reduce compensation when a worker engages in activity that could jeopardize recovery.
BACK TO SCHOOL
As the nation's students are back in school this week, departments of transportation around the country are urging drivers to take extra traffic safety precautions because children are again at increased risk of transportation related injuries from pedestrian, bicycle, school bus, and motor vehicle crashes. Right here in Florida, the FDOT reminds motorists to be alert for school speed zones and to watch for school buses with red flashing lights and an extended stop arm. For school bus drivers, practice your route. And for parents, make sure that your teen driver understands and obeys all state traffic laws. We hope your students are already well on their way to a great academic year.