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AG Reyes Joins Bipartisan Coalition in Calling for Fentanyl Knock-offs to Remain a Schedule I Drug

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 12, 2019

UTAH ATTORNEY GENERAL SEAN D. REYES JOINS BIPARTISAN COALITION IN CALLING FOR FENTANYL KNOCK-OFFS TO REMAIN A SCHEDULE I DRUG
All 56 Attorneys General Support and Agree
 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes has joined a bipartisan coalition of all 56 attorneys general in calling for Congress to permanently classify fentanyl-related substances as Schedule I drugs.

Schedule I drugs are defined as drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.
 
“We’ve got to do everything we can to stop the catastrophic and accelerating abuse of Fentanyl-related substances and its family of opioids,” said Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes. “Make no mistake: This is a national crisis. The legitimate use of these drugs has dwindled even as abuse and deaths grow. I urge Congress to pass this legislation as soon as possible.”

In the letter, the attorneys general urge Congress to pass S. 2701, the Federal Initiative to Guarantee Health by Targeting (FIGHT) Fentanyl Act, a bipartisan bill introduced by U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Joe Manchin (D-WV).

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) issued a temporary scheduling order in February 2018 to schedule fentanyl-related substances that has allowed federal law enforcement authorities to bring criminal actions against individuals who manufacture, distribute or handle fentanyl-related substances.

This scheduling order is set to expire less than two months from now on Feb. 6, 2020. The FIGHT Fentanyl Act codifies DEA precedent to schedule fentanyl-related substances.

The FIGHT Fentanyl Act will ensure law enforcement agencies and courts retain the tools needed to keep those who traffic in this deadly substance off the streets.

In the most recent data available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were 72,000 drug-related deaths in the United States in 2017. Of those deaths, roughly 40% involved fentanyl or a fentanyl-related compound.

Attorneys general from every state, territory and the District of Columbia signed the letter.
 

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Utah Opioid Task Force Convenes, Says Farewell to DEA District-Agent-in-Charge Brian Besser

November 25, 2019

Today, the Utah Opioid Task Force convened to discuss the opioid crisis in Utah and to consider new programs and resources.

Miss it? Listen to the audio here:

Trauma and Suicide Screening and Response

Dr. Brooks Keeshin with the University of Utah and Primary Children’s Hospital presented on the link between childhood trauma, suicide, and substance abuse. Keeshin has been working with the Children’s Justice Centers to help screen children at risk and get them the resources they need.

The Appropriate Use of the DEC Exam

Dr. Toni Laskey with the University of Utah and Primary Children’s Hospital presented on her work to create more effective medical exams and care for drug endangered children.

Sober Peer

Ed DeShields presented on Sober Peer, an upcoming app for those struggling with addiction, powered by an artificial intelligence-driven system that measures recovery, predicts outcomes, and suggests “best”, next steps for treatment.

For more information: soberpeer.com.

BluNovus

James Hadlock presented on the need for personal connection in the fight against opioid addiction and mental illness. Additionally, he presented on BluNovus, a company that helps employers connect employees to mental health resources and works to end the stigma.

For more information: blunovus.com

Farewell to DEA District-Agent-in-Charge Brian Besser

Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes presented an award to DEA District-in-Charge Brian Besser for his incredible work in the fight against the opioid crisis in Utah and in the Opioid Task Force. Besser will head to Washington, D.C. in a new role in the DEA. We congratulate Besser and thank him for all that he has done. He will be dearly missed here, but we look forward to working with him in his new role.

Mark Your Calendars: Utah Take Back Day on Oct. 26th

October 23, 2019

Mark your calendars for Utah Take Back Day on Saturday, October 26th from 10AM to 2PM across the state.

Sponsored by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, Take Back Day provides the opportunity to safely and anonymously dispose of unused and expired prescriptions. When unused prescriptions are left in the house, you can unintentionally become a dealer. Appropriate disposal of prescriptions prevents any misuse of these medications.

Find the closest disposal box to you here: http://utahtakeback.org/.

The following items can be returned:

  • prescription medicines;
  • over the counter medicines;
  • vitamins;
  • pet medication;
  • medicated ointments and lotions;
  • inhalers;
  • liquid medicines in glass or leak-proof containers (up to 12 oz); and
  • medicine samples.

The following items are not returnable:

  • needles, lancets, or syringes;
  • thermometers;
  • aerosol cans;
  • empty containers;
  • bloody or infectious waste;
  • personal care products (i.e. non-medicated shampoo);
  • hydrogen peroxide; and
  • business waste.

For advice on the safe disposal of these items, contact your pharmacist, local health department, or call 1-800-RECYCLE (1-800-732-9235).

Riverton City in Partnership with Utah AG Launches New Medication Disposal Program

September 12, 2019

Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes joined with Riverton City, Intermountain Riverton Hospital, and the Utah Opioid Task Force this morning to announce a local solution to the state and national opioid epidemic.

The opioid crisis is a widespread, community issue. It affects every family, community, and city. Unfortunately, deaths from opioid overdose in Utah now surpass deaths caused by firearms and vehicles. One of the best ways to start addressing this epidemic is in the home. Medicine cabinets are often filled with unused and expired medications that can easily be taken and abused.

To address this issue, Riverton Mayor Trent Staggs introduced a new cost efficient, eco-friendly medication disposal program using NarcX. This safe, easy-to-use liquid solution dissolves pills, tablets, capsules, liquids and patches immediately on contact, making them non-retrievable. A proprietary blend of ingredients allows even coated time-release capsules to quickly disintegrate and become neutralized, and indigestible properties prevent any attempt at abuse. Large, blue boxes containing NarcX will be placed at locations throughout Riverton in order to encourage the disposal of unused, unwanted, and expired medications. Bottles of the solution can also be purchased from select pharmacies in Riverton and can be placed in the home as an on-site option for safe and convenient destruction of medicines.

In addition to this new program, the Utah Attorney General’s Office partners with the DEA for Take Back Day each year. Unused and unwanted medications are collected across the State of Utah in an effort to prevent drug addiction and overdose deaths. In the last three years this initiative has been done in Utah, 90,000 pounds of medications were collected.

“We are all vulnerable to the opioid crisis,” said Attorney General Reyes. “Today is the day to make a difference. Let’s take back as many of these unused, unwanted medications as possible.”


Media coverage: 

KUTV: New Initiative Aims to End Opioid Crisis in Utah

Fox 13: Drug Disposal Bins in Riverton Will dissolve Pills On-site

KSL TV: Riverton Introduces ‘Solution’ to Pill Disposal: NarcX

KSL: Riverton Offers Kiosks for Residents to Safely Dispose Opioid, Drugs

ABC 4: Opioid Crisis Solution? Riverton Partners with NarcX to Dissolve Away Unwanted Medications

Deseret News: Riverton Offers Kiosks for Residents to Safely Dispose Opioids, Drugs

KSL News Radio: New Drop Boxes in Riverton Aim to Fight the Opioid Crisis

KJZZ: New Initiative Aims to End Opioid Crisis in Utah

Univision 32: Nuevo Plan Para Combatir Opioides 

AG Reyes Statement on Aaron Shamo Conviction

August 29, 2019

Following the announcement of the conviction of Aaron Shamo, Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes released the following statement:

“We may never know the full extent of the lives lost or the families harmed by Aaron Shamo’s deadly enterprise as a global drug dealer.

“Shamo callously profited from trafficking dangerous doses of Fentanyl to vulnerable people caught in the clutches of addiction.

“This case highlights the devastating effects of trafficking illicit Fentanyl, an often overlooked but deadly aspect of the opioid crisis. 

“Shamo’s conviction today is a significant victory in the ongoing war on illegal opioids in our state and nation. Utahans owe a debt of gratitude to all involved in taking down this predator.

“We thank DEA Supervisory Agent Brian Besser and his fellow agents who put their lives in danger to investigate this case and eliminate a clear and present danger.

“We also commend US Attorney John Huber, Special AUSA Michael Gadd and the joint prosecution team of the US Attorney, Kent Burggraaf from the Utah Attorney General’s Office, the FDA, Homeland Security, IRS-Criminal Investigation and Postal Inspectors.

“To further protect our families from the Aaron Shamos of the world, we need to have real and honest dialogues about addiction as a public health crisis.

“In those discussions, we must eliminate shame and judgment. This will allow more prevention in some cases and in others, more treatment and recovery resources to those trapped in the deadly cycle of addiction.”

AGO & Partners Honored at Best of State

The Utah Attorney General’s office was thrilled to join with family and friends at the Best of State Awards Gala where we were honored to accept multiple awards in the Community Development category.

Click here for a complete list of the AG’s Best of State 2018 awards.

Additionally, the AG’s office was accompanied by DEA District-in-Charge Brian Besser and his wife, Juli, where he received the Best of State Public Safety Officer award due to his relentless work in combatting the opioid epidemic that has hit Utah both in the metro and rural areas.

John DeGrey and Barry Rose of the SafeUT Commission accepted the Best of State award for Web-Based Community Resource. SafeUT is an incredible app that has saved the lives of teens in Utah by making suicide prevention more effective by offering more resources and mental health support. The app has also helped prevent numerous school threats.

Jennie Taylor, widow of Major Brent Taylor, joined with Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes and his wife, Saysha, during the Gala. Unbeknownst to Jennie, Major Taylor had won the Best of State award for Meritorious Service. In addition, he was posthumously awarded the Best of State Statue (or the BOSS), which is given to the most outstanding medal winner in their division.

Major Taylor, who served as the North Ogden mayor, made the ultimate sacrifice while serving overseas, living and dying for his love of God, country, and family. We are so grateful for his service.

We also give our sincerest thanks to all those who gave their time and energy to help make our office the Best of State.


The Best of State Awards recognize outstanding individuals, organizations and businesses in Utah. More than 100 judges review the nominations and determine the winners based on achievement in the field of endeavor, innovation or creativity in approaches, techniques, methods or processes, and contribution to the quality of life in Utah.

A Look at the Utah Town Hall on Opioids

May 7, 2019

Recently the Utah Attorney General’s office had the opportunity to join Utah DEA and Utah Naloxone for an Opioid Town Hall, hosted by former Fox News host Eric Bolling.

Part of Addicted Utah, an ongoing series by KUTV, the town hall included Assistant AG Scott Reed, Utah Naloxone co-founder Dr. Jennifer Plumb, DEA District Agent in Charge Brian Besser, and was moderated by 2News anchor, Jim Spiewak.

The town hall featured stories of former addicts, addressed the increase in opioid and non-fatal drug overdoses and the danger of Benzo’s, as well as impact on veterans, how to recognize an overdose, and steps being taken to combat the opioid epidemic in Utah.

“This is an unprecedented time for all of us. We need more than ever to work together – a concerted effort to understand and to defeat the problem as a community.”

Utah Assistant Attorney General Scott Reed

You can watch Town Hall Your Voice, Your Future – Opioids: A National Crisis below.

For more information on the effect of opioids in Utah, visit KUTV’s Addicted Utah series.

ICYMI: Utah AG In the News

Friday, April 19, 2019

Welcome to the weekend, Utah.
Its been a great week with lots going on and we don’t want you to miss a single thing. Below are a few highlights of our team working to protect and keep all Utahns safe.

Utah opioid overdose deaths are down thanks to Utah Naloxone and its founder, Dr. Jennifer Plumb, who is part of the Utah Opioid Task Force, co-chaired by Attorney General Sean D. Reyes along with U.S. Senator Mike Lee, and DEA District Agent-in-Charge Brian Besser.

For more on the story, see St. George News: Utah Naloxone credited with reducing opioid overdose deaths.

The Children’s Justice Center Program, part of the Utah Attorney General’s Office, participated in this year’s planting of pinwheels in honor of Child Abuse Prevention Month up at Primary Children’s Hospital.

Check out KSL.com’s article: ‘It is preventable’: Utah children’s hospital honors child abuse victims for more information.

Thanks to the great work of Assistant AG Jacob Fordham, some of the most vulnerable in our communities are a bit safer.

Standard-Examiner: Ex-nurse’s aide sentenced to jail for abusing elderly assisted living patients

The Utah Attorney General’s Office is once again partnering with FanX Salt Lake Comic Convention to provide a 24/7 harassment hotline, sending a clear message to participants that bullying, abuse, assault, and harassment of any kind will not be tolerated.

Watch coverage on KUTV below:

Get rid of unused/expired drugs this Saturday

The time has come once again.

Protect your loved ones by participating in Utah Take Back Day this Saturday, October 27th, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Utah Take Back, a bi-annual event in April and October, is a day set aside to help this great state properly dispose of unused, expired, or unwanted prescriptions. Last April our local law enforcement partners collected 17,364 pounds of prescriptions drugs!

Utah Take Back Day is free of charge and anonymous. Collection sites are set-up throughout the entire state and this Saturday includes a site at the Capitol.

Find the site nearest to you here. The following items are returnable:

  • Prescription medicines
  • Over the counter medicines
  • Vitamins, pet medicines
  • Medicated ointments and lotions
  • Inhalers
  • Liquid medicines in glass or leak-proof containers (up to 12 ounces)
  • Medicine samples

The Take Back service is provided through the partnership of the Attorney General’s Office, DEA, Department of Health, Department of Public SafetyUtah National Guard, and more.   

Please share this with your friends!  Your first step in solving Utah’s opioid crisis is to make sure you don’t become an accidental dealer. 

D.A.R.E. unveils new curriculum addressing opioids

At a press conference today, D.A.R.E. America announced its entrance into the fight against opioids by unveiling a new curriculum focused specifically on the dangers of opioids and prescription drugs. Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes and DEA District Agent in Charge Brian Besser were on hand to support the new move for the decades-old program. 

Over 2.5 million Utah students have been trained in drug awareness and preventions since D.A.R.E. launched almost three decades ago. However, as the challenges of youth have changed, the D.A.R.E. education programs have had to evolve to meet those ever-increasing needs.

The recent rise of opioid addiction and overdose deaths have compelled D.A.R.E. America to create lesson plans that help students navigate a new reality throughout the states.

These lesson plans go beyond the traditional “Just Say No” slogan to strategies that provide students with the skills and knowledge needed to help their peers who may be struggling as well as make good and healthy decisions in every area of life.

You can watch the entire press conference here: 

Additional coverage of the event can be found at:

Fox13: D.A.R.E. fights opioid crisis with new lesson plans

KSL-TV: D.A.R.E. Program Steps Up Curriculum For Utah Students

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