(NASHVILLE) – Senator Ken Yager (R-Kingston) recently participated in a ceremony with Governor Bill Haslam at Blount Memorial Hospital in Maryville marking the signing of a new law to fight Tennessee’s opioid epidemic. Yager’s legislation addresses the law enforcement and treatment components of a three-pronged plan to curb abuse, while a separate measure deals with the prevention component. Both laws, which are part of Gov. Haslam’s TN Together initiative, became effective on July 1.
“Each day in Tennessee, at least three people die from an opioid-related overdose,” said Sen. Yager, who has worked diligently to address drug abuse during his legislative tenure, including passage of laws cracking down on ‘pill mills’ in the state. “That means that just about every family in our state has been affected in some way by drug abuse, whether it is a friend, co-worker, family member or loved one.”
The state budget, which also became effective July 1, provides $30 million to fund treatment and law enforcement programs included in the act. This includes hiring more officers in the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and providing intensive substance use treatment programs for offenders while incarcerated.
“These initiatives aim to roll back Tennessee’s opioid epidemic,” added Yager. “We need to give law enforcement the tools they need to attack the problem, while providing more resources for treatment. I believe this legislation will make great inroads in helping individuals and families who suffer as a result of opioid abuse.”
The new law also strengthens penalties for the use and unlawful distribution of fentanyl – a dangerous and addictive drug which is up to 100 times more potent than morphine.
“Through this multifaceted approach, Tennessee can be successful in its continued fight against the opioid epidemic and reverse the addiction, overdose and illicit distribution trends that continue to plague the state and nation,” Yager concluded.