Michigan Legislature crafts opioid bills to stem addiction

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LANSING, Mich. (AP) — People addicted to opioids in the remote Upper Peninsula city of Escanaba have a rare group of people to turn to for treatment: the police.

Escanaba Lt. Robert LaMarche, the soon-to-be director of the Escanaba police, says they won’t arrest people seeking addiction treatment if drug possession is their only crime.

The Legislature has its own plans to stymie the widespread problem with a $2.5 million overhaul of the state’s prescription tracking database progressing after the House approved it last month. The plan’s supporters say unreliable prescription data for doctors contributes to the problem.

Michigan’s opioid-related overdose deaths have tripled since 1999; more than 1,700 people died from opioid overdoses in 2014. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control says more people overdosed in 2014 than any previous year on record.

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