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State Rep. Joanne Osborne leads meeting on Arizona drug issues

FOX 9's Adam Klepp watched the meeting in Phoenix and has more on the solutions proposed by speakers

PHOENIX, Ariz. (KECY, KYMA) - Joanne Osborne is the State Representative of District 13, part of which is in Yuma County.

She's also the chair of the House Health and Human Services committee.

"As a 4th generation Arizona native, it pisses me off to no end that Arizona has been a funnel to America for fentanyl and other drugs,” Osborne said.

On January 24th the group held a hearing to get an in-depth look at the drug problem in the state of Arizona, as the Department of Health Services says 5 Arizonans die of a drug overdose every single day.

Members of law enforcement, as well as a former drug user, spoke to the committee. 

All hoping to provide solutions to the drug and crime issue in Arizona, and to prevent the flow of drugs into our country at our southern border.

Colonel Heston Silbert with the Arizona Department of Public Safety says he supports treatment for addicts but believes a lack of consequences for dealers is allowing this drug problem to increase.

"I would tell you, possession for sale, as a law enforcement expert, we need enhanced sentencing,” Silbert said.

Fentanyl, a powerful opioid, took center stage. Jeff Taylor, who now helps run drug treatment programs for the Salvation Army, is a former drug addict.

He says one solution to the problem is offering users treatment but says some won't seek it if they haven't hit rock bottom.

"We try and get people treatment all the time, and they won't go because they haven’t suffered a consequence,” Taylor said.

Taylor also says the age of users in the Salvation Army’s programs is going down. Nationally, they’ve seen it drop from 38 years old, to 26 years old in less than a decade.

Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb implored the committee to put programs in place to help kids.

"Getting the knowledge of why kids should stay away from drugs, and the damage it can cause, and the bad path it can put you on,” Lamb said.

A Phoenix Area Pediatrician, Dr. Gary Kirkilas, was one of the final speakers. He said in 2020, 60 children died of overdoses in Arizona.

The Health and Human Services Committee is a bipartisan group made up of nine State Representatives.

A link to their full meeting today can be found here.

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Adam Klepp

Adam Klepp is excited to start his first job in the broadcast news industry as the FOX9 at 9 anchor and as a reporter at 5 and 6 on News 11.

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