Prescription abuse is only one facet in a complex and ongoing battle against drugs and addiction, said 98th District state Rep. Tanya Pullin, D-South Shore.
But it isn’t simple and it isn’t confined to her Greenup County district, she said. “It is one of the most difficult issues facing our entire country.”
Pullin, who has held the 98th district for 12 years, is fighting challenger Tyler Murphy in the Democratic primary May 22. Murphy has positioned the drug issue as his campaign centerpiece and says Pullin has done little during her incumbency to solve it.
“I don’t deny there is a problem in eastern Kentucky, but what I have noticed is that the drug issue changes over time,” she said.
Drug users and sellers change practices and tactics to adapt to laws that are passed, Pullin said. That means legislators are constantly faced with the need to craft new laws.
The Florida pipeline at one time was the main source for some drugs; after state law enforcement worked to slow the flow from Florida drug users found other sources, she said.
Pullin said she has sponsored and supported important anti-drug legislation. She sponsored and passed a bill to require cleanup of meth lab sites, co-sponsored legislation banning synthetic drugs called bath salts and supported legislation banning salvia, a hallucinogen.
Some of those efforts were complicated when drug makers tweaked their formulas to skirt the ban and the 2012 session included legislation to give flexibility in defining the drugs for enforcement purposes.
In the current session Pullin cosponsored legislation to strengthen the interstate system used to track prescriptions. The Kentucky All Schedule Prescription Electronic Reporting System tracks prescriptions when they are filled, making it more difficult for users to get multiple prescriptions from multiple doctors.
She found state budget money for a pilot program that provided drug test kits to families in Greenup County.
Pullin sponsored a bill that provided for pre-trial services for combat veterans with drug or alcohol addiction issues. The legislation steers the veterans to services they already are entitled to, she said.
In this session she is working to put more money into police training.
“I’d like to see those on the front lines have available more training and up-to-date training and more resources,” she said.
MIKE JAMES can be reached at email@example.com or (606) 326-2652.