More than 900 Missourians lost their lives to the opioid crisis last year. Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens regards those deaths as a call to arms.
Like other of the nation’s governors, Greitens has found the opioid killing spree — from heroin and prescription drug overdoses — placed at his doorstep. In a stop in St. Joseph on Friday, he insisted the state would continue to take aggressive actions to curtail the problem.
“We want to learn what’s working in the state of Missouri and expand what’s working around the state of Missouri,” he said during a visit to the News-Press offices.
Greitens came to St. Joseph to visit the Kansas City Chiefs training camp at Missouri Western State University. Earlier in the day, though, he visited a drug court in Clay County and took heart from what he saw there.
“We’ve got some good models in the state of Missouri for how we can work with people who have become addicted to opioids, keep them out of the criminal justice system so that they can pay taxes and get a job and be contributing citizens,” he said.
That stands as one form of attack on what has been called an epidemic. Earlier in the month, the governor signed legislation that enabled Missourians to buy Narcan, a nasal spray that serves to block the effects of an opioid overdose. Not long after, he signed an executive order for equipping and training first responders with Narcan.
“It can save lives in the case of an overdose,” Greitens said. “We’d hear from principals, from church group leaders, from youth group leaders, that they wanted to have this life-saving technology on hand.”
In addition, he signed an executive order establishing a prescription drug monitoring database. Some have expressed concerns about whether the order gives health providers and pharmacists the latitude they need to prevent drug dealers from gaming the system.
Greitens countered that Missouri is working with federal authorities, the DEA and the FBI, to fight criminals in the drug trade.
“We’re taking on the drug traffickers that are bringing in the heroin, the fentanyl and the carfentanil to kill our kids,” he said.
Talking about the economy, the governor highlighted an initiative, announced this month, to review the state’s regulations. He claimed Missouri has 113,000 regulatory requirements, some of them unnecessary and many of them serving to stagger businesses.
“We’re doing a complete review of every regulation that’s on the books,” Greitens said. “We want to cut red tape to make it easier for businesses to grow so we can increase people’s take-home pay.”
The Republican leader also pointed to attempts being made to strengthen the state’s transportation system, including its waterways.
“We’re working, for example, right now with Gov. Kim Reynolds of Iowa and the White House on a plan and a proposal to look at the way we’re funding our intermodal waterways,” Greitens said. “Figuring out how we can best use the Mississippi and Missouri is good for agriculture and the rest of industry.”