Sunday, Feb 18, 2018
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Feds must get into this fight

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Senate Governmental Affairs Subcommittee Chairman Rob Portman (R., Ohio), left, listens to Ranking Member Thomas Carper (D., Del.), during a hearing on international mail and the opioid crisis.

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For the second time in a year, the Trump administration is threatening to slash the budget of the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

The office is led by an appointee usually referred to as the nation’s “drug czar,” but the administration has yet to tap someone to fill the job.

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Instead, executive branch drug policy at the White House is handled mainly by a committee led by presidential advisor Kellyanne Conway.

Sen. Rob Portman (R., Ohio) chairs a Senate committee that led a two-year investigation into the way drug dealers use the U.S. Postal Service to distribute the deadly opioid fentanyl. He has sponsored the Synthetic Trafficking & Overdose Prevention Act, which would require advanced electronic data on international packages shipped through the USPS to thwart drug trafficking.

As a leader in the fight against the opioid epidemic and as a Republican senator from one of the hardest hit states, one might expect the administration to consult with him regarding its drug policy. Instead, Mr. Portman has been left in the dark. His Republican colleague Shelley Moore Capito, of equally hard-hit West Virginia, expressed frustration at the situation. “I haven’t talked to Kellyanne at all and I’m from the worst state for this,” she told Politico.

The nation’s drug policy is never an insignificant matter. But right now, for states like Ohio and West Virginia, the drug fight is urgent.

Accidental drug overdoses killed more than 4,000 Ohioans in 2016 and the number is sure to be higher for 2017. State and local authorities need federal help — guidance, money, direction, and other resources — to get a grip on the epidemic.

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