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Congressman Griffith Wants to Prevent People from Taking Advantage of Opioid Crisis

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The opioid crisis is still gripping rural parts of Virginia, and one Virginia congressman is taking action to limit its supply.

People who want to make a quick buck off the misfortune of others are always looking for their next opportunity. 9th District Congressman Morgan Griffith says he wants to prevent those people from taking advantage of the opioid crisis in Virginia. One step is to stop what he calls rogue actors from asking themselves what it would take to get their hands on an existing license.

"What if we take over one of the smaller companies that is already licensed to work with or to manufacture opioids. They've already got all the permits. We just go in and we buy them, and then we're in a position to do what we want to with it," he says. "This is just a preventative measure to make sure that does not happen."

Griffith's bill passed the House the same week Governor Ralph Northam announced his support for legalizing marijuana.

Robert McNab at Old Dominion University says these two developments might end up working together.

"You go to the dentist and you get an opioid or maybe now it's cannabis oil or something that is not as significant in terms of its addiction potential and negative health outcomes," McNab says. "So these two things can work in synergy. I don't think they're planned to work in synergy. I just think it could be a fortunate outcome."

Legalization of marijuana will be near the top of the agenda for the next session of the General Assembly, which starts in January.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria. He has reported for NPR, the New York Daily News and the Alexandria Gazette Packet. He has a master's degree in American Studies from Florida State University, and he is a former adjunct professor at Tallahassee Community College. He is the author of four books.