Oklahoma Opioid Abatement Board Moves Closer to Distributing Settlement Funds

Oklahoma's Opioid Abatement Board managed through the Attorney General's office, met on Wednesday to discuss the next steps after receiving more than 250 letters of intent from public bodies interested in applying for grant money.

Wednesday, December 6th 2023, 10:58 pm

By: News 9, Matt McCabe


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Oklahoma's Opioid Abatement Board managed through the Attorney General's office, met in a special meeting on Wednesday to discuss the next steps after receiving more than 250 letters of intent from public bodies interested in applying for grant money.

Funds for the grants come from the state's share of opioid lawsuit settlements. Currently, $23 million is available to be awarded. "We need to be careful with these public funds and we need to be impactful," said Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond. "For three years we've had this board. For three years we've had this money. And only in the last 11 months have we actually moved the ball forward. So, I'm excited."

The board previously faced a setback with turnover from its members. But Drummond asked the current board members to remain committed through the first set of grant applications which will open and close somewhere during the first half of 2024. Exact dates for when grant applications will be due and when awards will be made have not yet been determined.

Jessica Hawkins, a representative for the Healthy Minds Policy Initiative, presented before the board on Wednesday. "The current wave of the crisis that we're in in Oklahoma is Methamphetamine," she said. "There are a plethora of best practices that are available out there for the choosing; as long as you know what your community's problems are."

Of the hundreds of public bodies that submitted letters of interest, many were county or city governments. School districts also numbered high on the list, with a few public trusts also submitting letters. The board denied several letters coming from non-governmental organizations, which are ineligible for the funds.

Some states have already rolled out and awarded opioid settlements. Drummond emphasized that Oklahoma expects its funds to be spent responsibly and within the overall framework of addressing opioid addiction. "We want to make sure that we deploy the funds in a systematic, fair and equitable manner."

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