The Addiction Professionals of North Carolina (APNC) Policy Update is a regular feature to APNC members to help inform about policy matters in both Raleigh & Washington that affect the substance abuse community.
The NC General Assembly is now in full swing. The deadline for filing House and Senate bills will come soon, and once that is met the bodies will begin the serious work of crafting legislation. Below is a brief summary of several bills APNC is following (note that we will be tracking many other bills as well):
- Senate Bill 20: The General Assembly has passed legislation to protect people from criminal charges when they summon medical help for victims of drug overdose. The new law will also limits prosecution on certain types of charges for overdose victims themselves and for bystanders who administer prescription antidote medication in an emergency. Additionally, medical providers who supply friends and family members of drug abusers with antidote medication, typically Naloxone, will be exempt from liability. The legislation now goes to Governor McCrory for his signature. If he signs the bill as expected, it will become law immediately.
- House Bill 173/Senate Bill 222: the House and Senate have had bills filed that would alter the reporting requirements for hospitals, pharmacies, vets and other distributors of Schedule II through V medications. The bill has been referred to committee, but is just beginning its legislative journey. Like Senate Bill 20 it was originally proposed by the NC Child Fatality Task Force.
- House Bill 84: Legislation was filed in the House to allow medical marijuana in North Carolina, but the legislation was defeated in the House Rules Committee and is dead for this session.
- House Bill 641: Legislation was filed in the House to allow judges to decide against deferring prosecution for certain 1st time drug offenses, such as possession drug paraphernalia. This bill has been filed but not yet acted upon in the House.
- Senate Bill 594: This bill, filed in the Senate, requires that all persons applying for Work First benefits undergo a drug test as a condition for acceptance into the program. Applicants are charged for the cost of testing:those who pass will be reimbursed the cost of the test, while those who fail will not. The bill doe not provide funding for rehabilitation for those who fail the test. This bill has been referred to the Senate Judiciary II Committee.
- APNC was part of a broad coalition of groups that successfully argued against “Stout 21”, a new alcohol product seeking approval from the state Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) Commission to be sold in North Carolina. APNC contended that the packaging of the product, which came in a tube container and contained flavors such as apple pie, would likely appeal inappropriately to underage consumers. The ABC Commission agreed and voted unanimously to reject the product.
The US Department of Health & Human Services (DHHS) recently published an issue brief on the Affordable Care Act and its impact on substance abuse treatment.