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AG Coleman to Opioid Commission: This is a Spark of Hope

Press Release from the Office of Attorney General Russell Coleman
Attorney General Russell Coleman delivered the following remarks to the Kentucky Opioid Abatement Advisory Commission today (Mar. 12) outlining his priorities for fighting the drug addiction crisis:


Press release here:

"Director Evans and Members of the Commission:

"It’s a great privilege to join you today for a discussion of the critical work of this Commission on behalf of the people of Kentucky.

"Each of us has been sent here with a vital task and a sacred trust. Thank you for accepting this heavy responsibility.

"There are likely more enjoyable ways to spend your Tuesday afternoons, but I would be hard pressed to find a more important one.

"None of us needs a reminder of the grave darkness we face. The specter of addiction has touched every single one of us, even striking at the very heart of some of our families.

"Too often, it feels like the darkness is creeping ever closer.

"Tonight, as we sleep in our beds, Kentucky moms and dads will lie awake, praying their child is safe.

"Treatment professionals will clock in for another long shift helping those battling this demon.

"And our law enforcement officers will stand watch at their posts to keep the darkness at bay.

"For those men and women and for all Kentuckians, this Commission is a spark of hope.

"We have the opportunity, with the resources entrusted to us, to keep that spark burning brightly and help it grow in these dark times.

"It is incumbent on each one of us to make this Commission a beacon of optimism for the future.

"We have been given a no-fail mission. We will succeed, because we must. The lives of our children, our neighbors, and Kentucky’s next generation depend on us.


"This afternoon I intend to lay out my vision for the next phase of tackling the drug crisis in Kentucky. It’s a plan of zealous collaboration.

"To be successful, the Office of the Attorney General and this Commission must have a strong partnership.

"We must also further connect this body with organizations throughout our Commonwealth committed to prevention, treatment, recovery and enforcement.

"When I say, “zealous collaboration,” that isn’t happy talk. It’s a sincere commitment to sharing burdens and opportunities. The challenge and the reward.

"It’s my hope we can continue to build upon the outstanding work the members of this Commission have done to date.

"Fifty-eight grants awarded; $43 million invested.

"Truly a statewide effect from the Mountains to the Purchase.

"I understand in the coming months members of this Commission will visit several of the organizations you’ve supported to see firsthand the lifesaving impact.

"I hope to join you in some of these visits.

"Together, we can celebrate the organizations this Commission has identified as making a real difference in the fight against addiction.

"We can draw attention to the outstanding initiatives available in communities across Kentucky for those in need.

"And, just as importantly, we can show a commitment to accountability and ensuring these funds are used responsibly and effectively.

"With a new round of grant applications already underway, I look forward to seeing the selections you make this year.

"These awards are about more than a press release; they’re about forever changing the trajectory of our Commonwealth and saving lives.


"I also look forward to bringing new ideas and opportunities for collaboration to this Commission.

"As I’ve traveled this Commonwealth, talking with families, providers, and law enforcement, I’ve come away incredibly impressed by our strong treatment and enforcement programs.

"After several years of hard work, there are finally enough treatment beds available in Kentucky. We should all celebrate this reality.

"Now, we are entering a new phase with a new challenge. When Kentuckians are dying from a single pill pressed with fentanyl, we need to build up the third leg of the stool: prevention.

"I am proud to announce that our Office is developing new prevention initiatives, focused especially on youth education. We have to start these conversations with our children earlier than ever before.

"As a Dad, I want to protect my kids’ innocence and shield them from the harsh dangers of the world.

"But when kids as young as 11 are dying from fatal overdoses… when a young person with limitless potential is stolen away because he thought he was taking a Xanax, it’s our responsibility to prepare them for this threat.

"When I served as U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Kentucky, we partnered with Jefferson County’s public schools to bring parents who lost their children to addiction into classrooms.

"These courageous individuals could connect with the students and deliver a powerful witness to the risk facing our youth.

"The results were incredible.

"I will be the first to admit that someone who looks like me and wears a suit may not be the most convincing voice for these young people. So, we’ll go out and find those who are.

"I hope to establish a statewide network of prevention trainers and advocates, connecting the lifesaving message with the right messengers.

"But the Attorney General’s Office can’t do it alone.

"In the spirit of collaboration, I would ask this Commission to come alongside us to build a gold-standard statewide prevention program.

"I know that all good ideas don’t come from Frankfort. Across Kentucky, we have some great prevention efforts, but we need more if we are going to change a generation.

"So, I hope to tap into your expertise to see what works, what can be scaled up, and what can save lives. We can beg, borrow, and steal from any idea that can work.

"As you consider the coming round of grant applications, I encourage you to place a strong emphasis on boosting Kentucky’s critically needed prevention efforts.


"Of course, we can’t make everyone happy. With limited resources and limited time, there will certainly be difficult decisions ahead.

"But it’s my hope that those who watch this Commission will take comfort that difficult decisions aren’t made lightly.

"They come only after careful study, thorough consideration, and honest conversation. Being responsible stewards of the settlement funds – which were purchased by the pain of Kentucky families – demands nothing less.

"In that spirit, I respectfully ask this Commission to step back from previous proposals to allocate $42 million to ibogaine research and the unproven and incredibly expensive clinical trial for a psychedelic that is currently illegal as a Schedule 1 drug.

"These vital resources – that some call “blood money” – are too precious to gamble away.

"That’s not to say that this Commission shouldn’t be on the cutting edge of innovation. I believe we can push the boundaries of addiction response, and we should.

"I will ask Director Evans to bring before this Commission a proposal to establish a $5 million pool for research and innovation grants.

"With a new fund tailored to big ideas, Kentucky can keep pushing the outer limit in this space.

"And, if someone brings forward an ibogaine research proposal that fits the criteria of this new innovative grant program, I hope the Commission would give it full and fair consideration.


"Before I close and answer any questions from members of the Commission, I would like to end where I began—with gratitude.

"Thank you each for answering the call to serve our Commonwealth.

"Thank you for being that beacon of hope in a world that feels surrounded by darkness.

"Your work couldn’t be more important, and I look forward to coming alongside you as we fulfill our mission: to save lives.

"Thank you once again for this opportunity, and I would be glad to answer a few questions."

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