Colorado Making Progress On Opioid Abuse, But Problems Remain, Governor Says

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Photo: Hickenlooper On CM Jul 20 2015
Gov. John Hickenlooper, photographed at his office on Monday, July 20, 2015, during a taping of Colorado Matters.

Drugs -- prescribed and otherwise -- are a major focus of Gov. John Hickenlooper's regular conversation with Colorado Matters host Ryan Warner. He also spoke about what he believes is a lack of business acumen on the state Supreme Court, the court's recent finding on school vouchers and the state's increasing use of police body cameras.


Hickenlooper on the state board of health's decision not to add Post Traumatic Stress Disorder to the list of conditions eligible for medical marijuana:

"I don't think we have enough information... there is almost no, or very little, research that is conclusive about the effects on PTSD. And we have literally thousands of people coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan suffering from PTSD; we owe it to do everything for them that we can... I think there's absolutely no reason why we shouldn't still be doing testing on this, and we can do that independent of what the decision was by the medical board."

On why, given the dearth of medical research, medical marijuana should be approved for any conditions:

"We don't have absolute proof for a number of the conditions that now qualify for use by medical marijuana. I think that raises the question: should there be tighter limitations on what conditions medical marijuana can be used for... I don't think you want to be calling for a closing-in or an expanding until you get more information."

On what more the state can do to cut down on prescription opioid abuse:

"It's a question of educating doctors, educating the public. We've got a program now in place where we are using a digital database... when a patient goes to Walgreens, or Safeway or King Soopers, it goes in a database. And some people used to take the prescription and go to one place, then another place, then another place and another place. Now, it shows up on that computer screen for the pharmacist to go, didn't you just fill this two days ago?... I think we're getting our arms around it. We're getting our arms around it. We've just got to do it."

On his comment that the newest Colorado Supreme Court justice "brings a strong background in commercial litigation and business law, which has been under-represented on the court."

"If all the judges on the Supreme Court started out in public service... whether they're prosecutors or public defenders, and then became a bunch of judges and worked their way up, that's not the same as having been out and representing real clients or real businesses... 'The people of Colorado,' you're not sitting there with an individual person... that's not necessarily the same as representing a business, right, that's got to make a payroll, and has a regulatory environment that they have to navigate within."

On whether police body camera footage should be made publicly available:

"The tricky part is, sometimes footage can almost convict a person before there's been a trial, so I know it's a very sensitive issue. Colorado has traditionally been on the side of making that information as public as possible, and my guess is that we'll probably be pretty open with this new body camera information."