Attorney General DeWine has approached Ohio’s drug abuse problem with intense determination and from many angles, including law enforcement, prosecution, education, and outreach. Efforts in 2012 focused largely on stemming the abuse and sale of synthetic drugs, a growing problem that can place users, family members, friends, law enforcement, and medical personnel at great risk. The Attorney General’s investigators and prosecutors also kept a laser focus on the prescription drug diversion and methamphetamine problems, while other staff members worked with local communities to raise awareness of drug trends and abuse.
New law takes aim at synthetic drugs
The Attorney General’s Office worked closely with legislators on a tough new law banning certain synthetic drugs, many of which have been widely available through the Internet and in convenience stores, head shops, and gas stations. The measure gives law enforcement a much wider and flexible net to go after manufacturers, distributors, and users of harmful substances masquerading under labels claiming they’re bath salts, herbal incense, glass cleaner, plant food, or novelty items.
Lawmakers passed the bill unanimously, and it took effect in December. The law builds on a 2011 statute that banned substances law enforcement and crime lab personnel were seeing at that time.
Prescription drug work wide-ranging
Curtailing prescription drug abuse is a major focus, and many sections of the office are involved in the work.
The Attorney General’s Office and Scioto County Prosecutor’s Office prosecuted the last known pill mill in that county, considered the epicenter of Ohio’s prescription drug problem. Four defendants — a doctor, owner, former owner, and employee — were charged following an investigation by the Ohio State Pharmacy Board, BCI, and Scioto County Sheriff’s Office.
The Attorney General’s Office also provided 66 Ohio law enforcement agencies ¬— mostly in Southeast Ohio — with prescription drug drop boxes under a pilot program launched in 2012. Housed in agency lobbies, the boxes allow residents to safely dispose of unneeded prescriptions to keep them from falling into the wrong hands.
Attorney General DeWine made a special effort in 2012 to remind Ohio residential care facilities of their legal obligation to report suspected prescription drug diversion. Acts that deprive a patient of prescribed medication are a form of patient neglect and must be reported.
Special agents respond statewide
BCI agents coordinated the response to a record 600 methamphetamine labs in 2012. BCI trains and coordinates with law enforcement throughout the state, increasing the number of experts able to respond to the labs. Agents also train social workers, road crews, and others who could encounter meth labs on the job.
Efforts encourage grassroots initiatives
Communities play a significant role in battling drug abuse. Attorney General DeWine encourages grassroots efforts through the work of a drug abuse awareness coordinator on his staff. Among the projects that have resulted:
Three community groups — Tyler’s Light in Central Ohio, Hope Blooms in Southeast Ohio, and Cole’s Warriors in West Central Ohio — worked with the Attorney General’s Office to produce videos featuring local teens and parents to raise awareness of opiate abuse and encourage young people to be part of the solution.
Videos from the Ohio Attorney General's Office