The Washington County Heroin Task Force on Wednesday dissected the Heroin, Opiate Prevention and Education — H.O.P.E. — legislation aimed to combat the heroin and prescription drug epidemic, including its effectiveness.
She said the focus is on heroin, the problems it causes and how to eliminate it. There are four subcommittees within the Task Force representing the four pillars of addiction — prevention, treatment, harm reduction and courts.
Members of the Washington County Heroin Task Force met inside the Public Agency Center in West Bend to discuss the H.O.P.E legislation.
State Rep. John Nygren introduced the legislation and it is a package that consists of seven bills. Gov. Scott Walker signed it into law in April.
“(State Rep.) Pat Strachota — what she did at the forum (Washington County Community Forum on Heroin) was look at each bill and separated it and identify what each bill is what,” Corliss said.
Some of the bills include showing identification to pick up schedule II or III narcotic or opiate prescription medication, allows EMTs and first responders to administer Narcan, grants limited immunity from prosecution of possession for those who call 911 for someone who is overdosing and encourages communities to set up drug disposal programs.
The task force had a lengthy discussion on the bill that allows first responders to administer Narcan; some wondered if anyone can administer it. “But I think this makes it legal for me to administer Narcan,” Corliss said.
“If we have defibrillators at school, what’s the difference of having Narcan next to the defibrillators,” she added.
Washington County Circuit Court Commissioner Dolores Bomrad said the law is limited. “It’s limited to someone who is likely to be in a position to administer it to someone who is overdosing,” Bomrad said.
Bomrad said Narcan is specifically for law enforcement and first responders.
“Legislation is being passed very quickly without a lot of thought,” Bomrad said. “And so we’re going to see and this is my opinion more and more of this kind of thing where we really don’t know what it means. We live in an age of sound bites and not careful research.”
One of the bills allows communities to establish a drug disposal program, so drug prescriptions don’t fall in the wrong hands.
“What I don’t understand about this act is how is this different than what we were doing last year. Were we doing something illegal last year?” Corliss asked.
West Bend Police Chief Kenneth Meuler said according to the the Drug Enforcement Administration several communities were doing things that were illegal. “You had to get a DEA permit to collect and dispose of the drugs,” Meuler said. “I still think in my mind it should be given to the pharmacies.”
Another bill that was discussed was the bill that grants immunity from prosecution of possession for those who call 911 for someone that is overdosing.
“Basically you can’t get busted asking help for you friend. That’s my interpretation. Am I correct law enforcement?” Corliss asked.
Meuler said the dealer of the drug can be charged. He said if someone delivers heroin and that person overdoses, the supplier can be charged. He said if someone didn’t supply the heroin, but used it with a friend who overdosed, they won’t be charged for their use of heroin.
“You’re still going to be charged of any dealing. It’s very limited,” Meuler said.
Corliss said the H.O.P.E legislation is not the end of the problem.
“I think by saying the governor signed seven bills everybody’s patting themselves on the back and saying ‘We have a good start.’ Yeah, it’s a start, but I don’t know how far it’s going to get us,” Corliss said.
“Legislation is being passed very quickly without a lot of thought.”
— Dolores Bomrad Washington County Circuit Court commissioner