Washtenaw District Attorney to Not Charge People with Unauthorized Use of Opioid Addictive Drugs


ANN ARBOR, MI – Washtenaw County District Attorney Eli Savit is adding a drug used to treat opioid addiction to the list of things he won’t sue people for.

Savit, who took office Jan. 1, announced the new policy on Wednesday, Jan.13, saying America remains in the midst of a devastating opioid epidemic.

The prosecutor’s office will no longer charge cases related to the unauthorized use or possession of buprenorphine, often known by the brand name Suboxone, a drug that helps people struggling with opioid addiction, Savit said. .

Further, Savit’s policy calls for “a general presumption against the laying of criminal charges relating to the unauthorized sale or distribution of buprenorphine.”

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Many people who illegally sell buprenorphine sell life-saving drugs to others with addiction and it is not in the interests of justice, public safety or public health to lay criminal charges against them, said Savit.

“Today’s political announcement is about saving lives,” Savit said in a statement, saying people generally use buprenorphine to help recover.

“When we charge cases related to buprenorphine, we increase the likelihood that recovering people will end up using drugs like heroin or fentanyl. Data from other communities clearly confirms this. Refusal to continue with buprenorphine is associated with a significant reduction in overdose deaths. This is the outcome we should all wish for.

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Experts helped create the new policy, including doctors, law enforcement, recovery professionals and opioid policy specialists, Savit said.

The use of buprenorphine stabilizes the neurochemistry of people addicted to opioids, relieving intense cravings and withdrawal symptoms, says Savit’s new policy guideline, citing research from health experts.

Although buprenorphine is an opioid, it does not cause the same physiological effects as drugs like heroin that fully activate opioid receptors in the brain, and patients usually do not become intoxicated, he says. On the contrary, they demonstrate significantly improved cognitive function and are generally safe to drive, he says.

Buprenorphine remains a controlled substance in Michigan, which means its use or possession without a prescription can expose a person to criminal charges, Savit noted, although he vows not to let that happen here.

Under Savit’s policy, charges can still be brought against manufacturers or large-scale distributors engaged in the black market sale of buprenorphine for profit, or against people who sell or manufacture “designer” drugs. »Dangerous product containing both buprenorphine and fentanyl.

There were 41 opioid-related deaths among residents of Washtenaw County between January and August last year, according to the county’s health department.

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