What Minnesota’s new opioids law does

Legislation to fight the opioid epidemic in Minnesota takes effect Thursday, Aug. 1. What got the most attention was the funding mechanism: The state will collect an estimated $20 million per year in registration fees charged to opioid manufacturers and distributors.

What gets less attention is what the new law actually does. In an interview, State Rep. Liz Olson, DFL-Duluth, the author of the bill, mentioned some of the aspects she’s particularly excited about:

  • Establishment of an advisory council that will sift through the available evidence and determine how best to spend the new funding to target opioid misuse.

  • New guidelines for prescribing opioids to people who are in acute pain.

  • A provision that allows people to specify “no opioids” in their health care directives.

  • Improved disposal receptacles so that it’s more convenient for people to safely get rid of their unused prescription medicines.

  • Funding to support exploring non-pharmacological alternatives to pain management.

“An important piece of this is not only to deal with where the crisis has gotten us, but how do we get out of it, through different methods,” Olson said.

Vaping law takes effect Thursday

Another law that takes effect in Minnesota on Thursday prohibits the use of e-cigarettes in public spaces where tobacco use already is forbidden.

The Minnesota Medical Association, one of the legislation’s supporters, pointed out in a news release that current law already bans the devices in schools, health care facilities and state-owned building. The new law extends that to bars, restaurants and most indoor workplaces.