Governors gather for discussion on opioids

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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA TV) - Governors from around the region gathered in Rapid City on Wednesday to look for solutions for the nation's growing opioid problem.

The roundtable was part of the the Western Governors' Association annual meeting hosted by Governor Dennis Daugaard. The panel, comprised of nonprofits, medical experts, governors, and federal government partners from the Department of Agriculture, discussed the problem and how each state is fighting it. One of the issues brought up was finding, applying for, and utilizing grant money.

Joan Hennenberry, from Health Management Associates listed several funding sources, but acknowledged the need to streamline all of the grants so they are easier to apply for.

"There's money coming from the Substance Abuse Mental Health Administration, Centers Disease Control, Bureau of Justice, HRSA - Health Resources and Services Administration," Hennenberry said, listing just a few.

Beyond money, the panel discussed alternatives for managing pain, including the use of medical marijuana - a controversial issue bogged down by government studies.

Governor Gary Herbert, a Republican from Utah, said his state is currently going through an election cycle where a marijuana issue is on the ballot.

"There is a concern about recreational use and driving under the influence, and all kinds of other things," Herbert said. "Again, this is not without controversy. Utah is, if you haven't noticed, a very conservative state. So this is an issue and again, I wish we had more science. When will your study be done?"

He directed his question to another governmental organization who said they needed more time to fully study medical marijuana.

The governors agreed to assemble a report on how each of their states are combating opioids to see which practices are best and which one could be transpanted to new areas.