Pubdate: Sun, 01 Nov 2015
Source: Daily Record (Wooster, OH)
Copyright: 2015 The Daily Record
Author: Marc Kovac


COLUMBUS -- Gov. John Kasich said he has voted against state Issue 3
and voiced concern about the impact the marijuana legalization
amendment could have on efforts to combat drug abuse.

"I just think it sends the wrong message," he said. "When you run
around telling kids not to do drugs, young kids, and then they read
that we might legalize marijuana, I just think it's a mixed message.
It's not good."

Backers of Issue 3, however, said the proposal to legalize and
regulate marijuana in Ohio would actually help the state in its
efforts to counter opioid addiction.

"We support John Kasich's efforts to end the heroin epidemic in Ohio
and believe that passing Issue 3 will help us take our streets back
from drug dealers," Faith Oltman, a spokeswoman for ResponsibleOhio,
said in a released statement Monday.

Kasich offered the comments following a press conference at a downtown
Columbus grocery store, where he and others touted the successes of a
statewide electronic reporting system that enables pharmacists to
cross-check prescriptions to ensure patients aren't improperly
obtaining supplies of addictive painkillers.

The system, combined with prescription guidelines developed by the
state two years ago and other efforts, has helped to cut the number of
opiates distributed to patients and the number of patients "doctor
shopping" with hopes of gaining multiple prescriptions for the drugs.

The Kasich administration also has earmarked up to $1.5 million
annually to further integrate the statewide reporting system with
electronic medical records and pharmacy dispensing systems.

The Kroger store where Kasich spoke Monday has already integrated its
system; pharmacists there can instantly check prescription histories
before providing drugs to customers.

Despite the state's efforts, the number of overdose deaths in Ohio
continues to rise. Statistics released by state health officials last
month pinpointed 2,482 deaths last year, up nearly 18 percent from
2,110 in 2013.

Increasing use of the powerful opioid fentanyl, sold under the
prescription names Actiq, Duragesic and Sublimaze, was a big part of
the increase, accounting for more than 500 drug poisoning deaths in
2014. That compares to fewer than 100 such deaths in 2012 and '13.

"It is a constant battle of education, monitoring, and I think all
these things together are going to yield some good things," Kasich
said Monday. "... We had a whole generation that had access to these
drugs, and now we've got to kind of work our way out of it. There are
some positive signs, but it's a battle. ... It's just going to be an
ongoing fight for a long time."

Kasich was joined Monday by Tonda DaRe, a Carrollton woman whose
daughter died from a heroin overdose. She started a support group,
Holly's Song of Hope, to tackle drug addiction issues.

"I don't want any other parents to ever go through what I've been
through, am still going through (with) her sister, her dad and her
4-year-old son," DaRe said. "We've got to save these kids."
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