New Hampshire State Representative Amanda Bouldin
State Representative Amanda Bouldin’s office submitted these responses to the American Opioid Podcast on 3/1/2019 10:00:17 AM.
What district of New Hampshire do you represent?
Briefly, how would you describe the opioid crisis in your state?
We're told that our state's rate of addiction and death is higher, on a per capita basis, than that of other states. We have a citizen legislature, an older population, and a long tradition of spending as little money as possible. I think this culminates in the state having some of the least progressive, least compassionate drug policies. Consequently, the opioid issue that's affecting the entire nation is raging a bit harder in NH. People here don't want to apply solutions that work, because solutions that work are scary.
What are the two or three most significant bills that have been introduced in your chamber to help alleviate the opioid crisis in your state?
I prime-sponsored legislation to change the legal designation of naloxone -- so that it can be more easily and frequently prescribed, and so that it can be acquired OTC. I also prime-sponsored legislation to provide immunity from the charge of possession in the instance of a 911 call for an overdose. Most people call this "Good Samaritan" but I refer to it as "911 Immunity" because the other terminology generally refers to something like an average person doing CPR and cracking a rib by accident and needing immunity; whereas "911 Immunity" protects someone from being charged with drug possession when they're involved in the overdose of another. Anyway, both bills passed into law. Former Governor Maggie Hassan packaged these as the "Anyone, Anytime" campaign, and commercials were made to raise awareness about the availability of naloxone as well as the opportunity for immunity when calling 911.
What was your involvement, if any, in those bills (e.g., introduction, advocacy, vote pledge)?
Prime Sponsor -- did everything from beginning to end!
Have any of the bills passed? If not, why?
What was the most memorable experience you had while learning about the opioid crisis in your state?
The house I live in now, I moved into it after passing the 911 Immunity and Naloxone bills. It's taken me a while to get to know all my neighbors. I live in (and represent) a rough neighborhood, but I'm in the "nicer" part of it. Anyway, last summer I was talking to a neighbor who lives two doors down from me. He confessed that he had once been a heroin addict, and that he had even overdosed and was revived by a friend who had naloxone. I asked enough questions (about the date it occurred and whether or not anyone was arrested) to determine that his entire situation played out the way it did because of my two bills. He seems to be a very healthy and content person now. I kind of freaked out while talking to him, shocked that I'd actually met someone who was affected by my bills. He didn't seem to get it at all, and I think he was just more focused on his shame from his personal story. My excitement was probably the weirdest reaction he's ever gotten. I hope I never forget that experience.
If you had a magic wand that allowed you to pass any legislation you wanted in order to help alleviate the opioid crisis in your state, what would that legislation look like?
My magic wand would end all the arrests for possession, release all nonviolent drug offenders, open supervised injection sites, and would provide instant, approved-over-the-phone scholarships to anyone seeking funding for a treatment program of their choosing. I'd also increase or remove the cap on prescriptions for suboxone and, somehow, cut through the stigma by providing NH doctors some kind of immunity from federal interference when they treat their addicted patients with kindness instead of cutting them off. I'd also end NH's Rx Drug Monitoring Program.