State Representative Terry Johnson (R-McDermott), whose legislation put the nail in the coffin of the pain clinics in Scioto County, has been named to a committee to look at drug education in schools across Ohio.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, Senate President Keith Faber (R-Celina), and House Speaker Clifford Rosenberger (R-Clarksville) announced on Monday the formation of the Ohio Joint Study Committee on Drug Use Prevention Education.
The committee will examine the status of drug use prevention education in Ohio schools and issue recommendations on options for implementing age-appropriate drug education in schools across all grade levels.
“Ohio is facing the worst drug epidemic that I’ve seen in my lifetime. We need to change how we think about drugs and talk about drugs, and we need to start this culture change with Ohio’s children,” DeWine said. “Through the work of this committee, we hope to identify strategies that schools can use to provide comprehensive, age-appropriate drug use prevention education across all grade levels to help prevent future addiction.”
The committee will hold multiple meetings across the state to find out what types of drug prevention education schools are currently providing, what schools need to help expand their drug prevention education efforts, and how to best provide this education across all grade levels.
Immediately after being sworn into office, Johnson began drafting legislation to address the issue of prescription drug abuse. Just a few months into his first term, Johnson had completed the legislation and introduced it as House Bill 93. The bill put limitations on in-office dispensing of controlled drugs, put licensing requirements on pain clinics and contained a take-back program to help people safely dispose of unused medications.
On May 20, House Bill 93 was signed into law by Ohio Governor John Kasich. HB93 was signed just two months after it had first been introduced, considered record time for such activity. Scioto County’s pain clinic population went from 11 to zero as the facilities closed one by one. Johnson said, through it all, what became a priority for him was the process of prevention to try to save Ohio’s children before they get caught in the drug spiral.
“There is nothing any of us can do that is more important than helping our youngsters grow up to be happy, healthy and free of drugs,” Johnson said. “I am happy to serve in any capacity.”
Rosenberger said tackling the state’s opioid abuse epidemic from all sides is crucial to stemming addiction and saving lives.
“Prevention is key, and this study committee will work to ensure that Ohio’s students are being educated early and properly so that they are aware of the dangers of drug abuse and addiction,” Rosenberger said. “I want to thank Attorney General DeWine for his efforts in creating this committee as well as my fellow colleagues in the House and Senate for their continual work in fighting this epidemic.”
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.