Kate Brown and state officials have decided to keep Oregon off the list of the first 50 states to ban the use of the controversial injectable form of the opiate fentanyl, despite a call by President Donald Trump.
Brown, who will travel to Portland Thursday to meet with drug treatment centers, said Thursday she was confident Oregon could pass a law banning fentanyl and that she would use the opportunity to promote public health and save lives.
The decision by Brown, a Democrat who has called for the federal government to ramp up efforts to contain fentanyl and opiate overdoses, was the first official state response to Trump’s comments earlier this week that states could not ban opioids like fentanyl because they’re illegal in their states.
A bill Brown has introduced to prohibit the use and sale of fentanyl has failed in the Legislature and would likely fail in the courts.
In a letter to Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum on Thursday, Brown urged Rosenblums office to “immediately begin drafting a new opioid control plan” and to develop a plan to protect Oregonians.
The governor said she will hold a press conference with Rosenbluns office later Thursday.
She said the opiates that Oregonians have overdosed on this summer were being bought on the street and there was “little, if any, evidence of any change” in the state’s opioid epidemic.
Rosenbloms office said in a statement Thursday that it was unaware of the governor’s decision to keep the drug off the national list.
Rosen has said she plans to meet Monday with officials at the Portland National Cathedral to talk about the opiod crisis and whether the state should keep the list.
The Cathedral issued a statement earlier this month that said it will not discuss the opiopathic crisis, adding that it “does not provide nor encourage the use or abuse of opiates.”
The Oregonian reported that the state also is considering adding fentanyl to the list because of the opioid crisis.
In May, a bill passed the Oregon House of Representatives that would ban the sale and use of opiate drugs.
A second bill that was defeated earlier this year in the Senate was reintroduced this month to ban opioids in the State of Oregon.
The bill also would prohibit opioid use for certain conditions.
The Oregon Health Authority has recommended that people not use opiates for pain, cough, or nausea for the first five days of their stay at the facility.
Oregon Health officials have said they do not yet know whether the opioids are being prescribed by medical providers at treatment centers.
Oregon is among a number of states that have taken the lead in banning fentanyl use, which is the drug most often used to treat opioid addiction and overdose.
But the drug is being used in small amounts and in a growing number of counties, which have been in some of the most opioid-exposed communities in the country.
At least nine states have enacted legislation prohibiting the use, sale, or distribution of fentanyl, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
A survey by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) last year found that at least 9 out of 10 opioid users had used fentanyl in the past month.
In March, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that at the end of August, the use was up by more than 500 percent in some counties.
Officials with the state Department of Health said in an email that state officials are working to educate the public about the dangers of fentanyl and are working with the Oregon Health Division to develop an opioid control strategy.
Brown has said opioids like oxycodone are a more effective and safe alternative to heroin and that Oregon needs to reduce opioid overdose deaths and use.