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Task force applauds Trump’s opioid declaration



Recorder Staff
Friday, August 11, 2017

GREENFIELD — The Opioid Task Force applauded President Donald Trump’s declaration Thursday that the opioid epidemic is a national emergency.

“This is something we’ve been working on for years as we’ve seen first hand the devastation opioids can cause to families and to our community,” founder and Franklin County Register Probate John Merrigan said in a statement. “We look forward to seeing the results in terms of resources allocated to address this epidemic.”

As of now, though, what Trump offered is more of a statement than a full plan.

In a brief press release out of the White House Thursday, it said that the president “has instructed his administration to use all appropriate emergency and other authorities to respond to the crisis caused by the opioid epidemic.”

This followed up Trump’s remarks on the topic during an impromptu press conference outside his New Jersey golf club.

“The opioid crisis is an emergency, and I’m saying officially, right now, it is an emergency,” Trump said. “It’s a national emergency. We’re going to spend a lot of time, a lot of effort and a lot of money on the opioid crisis.”

The declaration for an emergency seemed to be on hold though, after a formal announcement by the president two days earlier called for tougher law enforcement, but not enacting an emergency plan.

Locally, the Opioid Task Force of Franklin County and the North Quabbin, celebrated the revised decision, which could lead to more resources at the front line of the crisis.

“Having additional federal resources can only enhance our local efforts,” task force co-chair and Franklin County Sheriff Chris Donelan said while Northwest District Attorney David Sullivan called it “heartening news.”

“We look forward to working with our federal and state partners to do everything we can to address the opioid crisis across our rural region,” Sullivan said in a statement. “Additional funding can certainly help support our existing initiatives.”

U.S. Rep. Richard Neal also reacted to the president’s declaration.

“I am pleased that President Trump recently declared the opioid epidemic a national emergency,” Neal said in a press release. “According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, between 2006 and 2015, the number of individuals addicted to heroin nationwide jumped from 227,000 to 591,000 and prescription opioid addiction increased from 1.5 million to 2 million. In addition, opioid deaths nationwide have nearly tripled from 2002 to 2015. These numbers are staggering. Right here in Massachusetts, the opioid death rate is 17.0 per 100,000. Without action, these trends will continue their dangerous trajectory.”

You can reach Joshua Solomon at:

jsolomon@recorder.com

413-772-0261, ext. 264