Virginia’s Medical and Legal Developments on Opioid Usage
If you follow the news at all, you have probably heard or read this phrase before – “opioid crisis.” It is one of those news phrases that is both loaded with meaning and has little meaning by itself. Last October, this blog wrote about the opioid crisis, specifically highlighting heroin use and its legal consequences. Since then, there have been two developments that center on opioid use in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
The first one occurred in January. Kroger, a prominent grocer in the Commonwealth, announced that it was making Naloxone available to customers without a prescription. Naloxone is described as an “opioid reversal medicine used by first responders in overdose cases.” Now, this medication is available over the counter to anyone in need.
The goal is to reduce overdose cases, which often lead to death. In fact, according to the Roanoke Times, opioid deaths are the leading cause of preventable deaths in Virginia. The goal is that, by making Naloxone more accessible, it will be used more often to reduce the death toll.
The second development is occurring in the Virginia General Assembly at the time of writing of this blog post . Six different bills have easily passed through both houses in the General Assembly and are now awaiting the Governor’s signature. All six bills target the opioid crisis in a different way. Described as an attack on the opioid crisis “from the judicial, medical, and educational fronts,” these bills are designed to limit the availability of legally prescribed opiates in an attempt to minimize the possibility of addiction.
What It All Means:
These two developments in the Commonwealth combined mean that opiates will become less available through medical prescriptions while the primary drug used to ward off opiate overdoses will become more available. The “judicial, medical, and educational fronts” are working together to create as much of a comprehensive solution as they can in this fight.
It is important to note that not all opioid use is illegal. Opiates are often prescribed in many legitimate medical circumstances (e.g. for patients with chronic pain). Medical opiates are often cited, however, as the gateway to heroin use, which is illegal and has been written about on this blog already.
The penalties for heroin use have not changed, but as you can see, the laws surrounding legal opioid use have. And, it is likely that they will continue to do so.
A good lawyer keeps up with developments like these as they happen. That way, he or she will be prepared in advance to represent you when a situtation like this arises. If this is you, call or e-mail today for a free consultation!
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