The Colorado Legislature is back in session, and once again faculty from the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences are working closely with lawmakers to provide their expertise on the opioid crisis.
The Skaggs School of Pharmacy is the home of the Colorado Consortium for Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention, which coordinates Colorado’s statewide response to the opioid epidemic. School of Pharmacy professor Robert Valuck, PhD, RPh, is the Consortium’s executive director, and he has helped lawmakers understand the crisis and provided them with reliable information for the past several years.
The Legislature convened in early January, and its agenda included bills that would expand medication-assisted treatment and create new law enforcement programs. “The bills the legislature passed last year and the ones it will consider this session will make an impact to Coloradans dealing with substance use disorder and help the public understand the risks of opioids,” Valuck said.
The Legislature moves fast—the best way to keep up if you want to follow the progress of a bill or the hearing schedule is to use the General Assembly’s web page for tracking bills. Enter the bill number into the search field or use keywords such as “opioids” or “substance use” and use the filters to sort the results. Other bills will be announced throughout the session, which is scheduled to adjourn on May 3.
As of Jan. 15,* those bills include:
Expand Medication-assisted Treatment Pilot Program (SB19-001)
Sponsor: Sen. L. Garcia
This bill concerns the expansion of the medication-assisted treatment (MAT) expansion pilot program and would expand the counties that may participate in the program; extend the duration of the program; and increasing funding for the program.
The bill is a continuation and enhancement of SB17-074, which created a pilot program that enabled the University of Colorado College of Nursing to train and coach Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants in delivering MAT services in Pueblo and Routt Counties. This bill intends to expand the work to the San Luis Valley and two additional counties in which a need is demonstrated.
Substance Use Disorder Treatment In Criminal Justice System (SB19-008)
Sponsors: Sen. K. Priola, Sen. B. Pettersen; Rep. C. Kennedy, Rep. J. Singer
The bill addresses treatment of individuals with substance use disorders in the criminal justice system and includes recommendations from the Substance Abuse Trend and Response Task Force with regard to law enforcement responses to the opioid crisis. Some components include expansion of Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) and Co-Responder programs as well addressing access to medication assisted treatment in jails. This is a bill put forward by the Interim Study Committee on Opioids and Other Substance Use Disorders.
Substance Use Disorders Recovery (HB19-1009)
Sponsors: Rep. C. Kennedy, Rep. J. Singer; Sen. K. Priola, Sen. B. Pettersen
This bill is another bill from the Interim Study Committee and focuses on housing support for individuals recovering from a substance use disorder and licensing of recovery residences.
*Please note: this might be an incomplete list, and additional legislation could be introduced this session. Bills also could be amended.
For more information about the Consortium, visit www.CoRXConsortium.org. For information safe medication use, storage, and disposal, visit www.TakeMedsSeriously.org, the website for Colorado’s anti-prescription drug misuse public awareness campaign.