As the chief legal officer of their state, attorneys general play key regulatory roles. Within this role, attorneys general are often concerned with public health issues that could impact the health and safety of individuals within their jurisdiction.
To improve the state of public health within the jurisdiction of each attorney general, NAAG has taken stances on several public health issues including the availability of medication for opioid use disorder (MOUD), encouraging streaming services to take action in preventing an increase in youth smoking rates, and ensuring consumers are protected as new CBD products are approved.
In August 2019, NAAG sent a letter to major streaming services to start an ongoing dialogue related to protecting children from content with tobacco imagery. The U.S. Surgeon General has previously found tobacco imagery in content is among the causes that can lead young people to become smokers.
In October 2020, NAAG followed up with a letter inviting the Directors Guild of America, Producers Guild of America, Screenwriters Guild of America, Screen Actors, Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, and International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees to join the attorneys general in helping protect young audiences from tobacco use. Read more about the attorneys general efforts in USA Today
As the opioid crisis continues to tear across the country, attorneys general have actively led the charge in advocating for federal legislation and actions to help those grappling with opioid-use disorder.
Following an endorsement letter in 2019, NAAG has urged Congress to pass the Mainstreaming Addiction Treatment (MAT) Act. Currently, any medical providers who wish to prescribe buprenorphine in an office-based setting must prove to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) that they have taken special training and then apply to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) for a special DEA “X” number to indicate when buprenorphine is being prescribed to treat substance use disorder. The MAT Act would remove this redundant and outdated requirement thus increasing access to buprenorphine for individuals with opioid-use disorder. Twenty-two state Departments of Health have also endorsed the MAT Act.
In February 2021, the lead sponsors of the 2019 NAAG policy letter, North Carolina Attorney General Stein and Oklahoma Attorney General Hunter co-wrote an op-ed in The Hill urging the 117th Congress to eliminate the burdensome requirements limiting access to buprenorphine.
NAAG has also taken a supportive stance on legislation that would permanently classify fentanyl as a Schedule I drug. Fentanyl currently is temporarily classified as a Schedule I drug but that classification is set to expire in early 2021.
Though the attorneys general have varying views on many cannabis issues, there is consensus that as regulators and chief legal officers each attorney general should be an active voice in ongoing discussions related to cannabis.
In 2019, NAAG sent a letter to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) encouraging federal cooperation with state partners in efforts to protect consumers. With many cannabis products being unveiled rapidly, attorneys general are concerned about any deceptive marketing that could include false or unsubstantiated claims about the benefits cannabis products may provide.