Rhode Island State House

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House Majority Whip John G. Edwards (D-Dist. 70, Portsmouth, Tiverton) has been selected as a 2019 Opioid Policy Fellow for the National Conference of State Legislatures.

The Opioid Policy Fellows Program focuses on health policies and programs being addressed throughout the country, among them being the strengthening of prescription drug monitoring programs, developing prescribing guidelines, increasing naloxone access, and supporting access to treatment and recovery services.

“Over the past few years, Rhode Island has found new ways to fight the opioid epidemic, encouraging prescribers, patients and pharmacists to work together,” said Representative Edwards in a prepared statement. “I look forward not only to sharing Rhode Island’s successes with other legislators, but in hearing about the policies and programs that have worked in other states. I look forward to working with these other legislators to find new ways to fight this crisis that has torn apart families and communities.”

The Opioid Policy Fellows Program will also address the intersections with human services and criminal justice issues. Legislative trends and action, research and evidence, and other innovative topics and cost-effective strategies will be covered during the yearlong program. 

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Fellows will have the opportunity to be part of a peer learning community with other legislators and will be able to directly engage with leading research and policy experts in the field. The program includes two face-to-face meetings with experts and other legislators, and two virtual seminars/webinars. Fellows also develop an individual action plan, for which NCSL will provide support throughout the year. 

Representative Edwards has supported numerous laws aimed at combatting the opioid crisis. Most recently, during the 2018 session, the General Assembly passed laws giving patients the option of only partially filling their prescription for painkillers, establishing a procedure for individuals to file a revocable voluntary non-opiate directive form with the patient’s licensed health care practitioner, allowing judges to sentence drug dealers who sell fatal doses of illicit drugs to up to life in prison, and directing the Department of Education to incorporate substance abuse and suicide prevention education into the health education curriculum.

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