WASHINGTON D.C.–A report with than 50 recommendations was released on Wednesday by the White House Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, outlining “wide-ranging changes to anti-drug policies,” according to the Washington Post and other media reports.
Headed by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, the commission specifically declined to endorsed medical cannabis as an alternative treatment for conditions currently treated with opioids in the report, citing “lack of sophisticated outcome data on dose, potency, and abuse potential for marijuana.”
Christie also noted studies from the National Institute on Drug Abuse that “found that marijuana use led to a 2½ times greater chance that the marijuana user would become an opioid user and abuser.”
The commission also declined to endorse staffed “safe injection” facilities, where intravenous opioid users would be able to inject drugs in a supervised setting.
The commission recommended safe provision training for physicians that prescribe opioid medications, and that healthcare providers be required to check prescription-drug-tracking databases, to prevent “doctor-shopping” by patients attempting to access multiple prescriptions.
Increased penalties on fentanyl trafficking were encouraged in the draft of recommendations. The commission also recommended that drug courts be expanded across all 94 federal court jurisdictions, which would allow an alternative for drug-addicted offenders to be remanded to drug treatment.
While the commission did not recommend new funding to battle the opioid crisis, it did endorse block grants, which would pull funding from various federal sources, to aid states and cities struggling with the opioid crisis.
In an earlier, interim report, Christie and the committee did endorse medication-assisted treatment for opioid addiction. This method would use buprenorphine, methadone, and naltrexone to wean users off dangerous opioid drugs. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb has also endorsed the treatment.
The committee report comes after President Trump declared the ongoing opioid crisis a “public health emergency” less than a week ago. Since 2000, there have been 200,000 deaths as a result of prescription drug overdoses in the U.S. According to the Washington Post, numbers of opioid overdose fatalities for 2016 are expected to be the most on record for a one-year period.