Drug Policy Advisory Council Meeting Minutes - May 21, 2015

Location: Iowa Correctional Institute for Women, Mitchellville, IA

Called to Order: May 21, 2015 at 1:00pm 

Adjourned: May 21, 2015 at 3:30pm

Voting Members Present: Vern Armstrong; George Griffith (for Dave Lorenzen); Warren Hunsberger; Jane Larkin; Steve Lukan; Katrina McKibbin; Steve Michael; Jennifer Miller; Jason Sandholdt; and Chris Wilson.  Non-voting members: Steven Arndt.

Voting Members Absent: Cyndy Erickson; Paul Feddersen; Matthew Harkin; Thomas Bower; and Kathy Stone.

Guests: Ethan Sahker, Iowa Consortium for Substance Abuse Research and Evaluation; Threase Harms, Gatekeeper Innovations; and Nathan Langley, Safer Lock.

Staff: Dale Woolery.

Welcome and Introductions
Director Lukan called the meeting to order and attendees provided introductions. 

Approval of the October 23, 2014 minutes
Motion to approve minutes. Minutes approved. 

“Safer Lock”
Threase Harms introduced Nathan Langley to discuss an innovative product his company has developed to help prevent controlled prescription drug diversion and abuse.  Building on personal family experiences, Nathan said he and his partner developed an easy-to-use bottle cap with a four-digit combination lock to prevent unauthorized use of medicines.  He showed a sample product to council members and answered questions.

The cost of a lockable cap is up to $4.  Nathan says several options are being explored for paying the cost, including pharmaceutical companies, pharmacies, grants, nonprofit foundations, fines and state appropriations (e.g., Illinois).  The company currently has about 1,000 of the caps in use in stores, and a Missouri nonprofit has purchased another 1,000 to make available there.

Councilmembers acknowledged the need to prevent medicine diversion/abuse.  Suggestions for possible use in Iowa included: Medicaid Lock-In clients, correctional offenders released with medicines, substance abuse treatment centers and private insurance companies.

Agency/Organization Updates
Steve Lukan: The Legislature is in overtime.  One remaining proposal monitored by ODCP would strengthen Iowa’s synthetic drug control laws.  Differing versions in what is called the “standings” bill (SF 510) must be worked out by both chambers.  ODCP also continues working with DOC on Iowa’s new three-year adult Second Chance initiative.

Steve Michael: A human trafficking bill still alive in the Legislature would require CJJP to track victimization in Iowa.  Katrina said she recently heard about “Dorothy’s House” for human trafficking victims, and Warren requested more information from her.  Another bill watched by CJJP attempts to extend services to young Iowans who might otherwise age out after reaching the age of 18.  CJJP is also writing grant applications, including one for a juvenile Second Chance implementation grant.

Vern Armstrong: DHS is working on Medicaid modernization, with proposals due next week and an award expected during the summer.  DHS continues working toward closing two mental health institutes.  DHS is also working with DOC to sign up offenders with Medicaid upon their release from custody.  Katrina said nearly 1,500 offenders have been connected with Medicaid services so far.  Steve M. said he would talk with Vern later about connecting more juvenile offenders with services.

Warren Hunsberger: Teen Challenge is preparing to open two new substance abuse treatment centers in Nebraska, one for males and one for females.  He hopes to begin accepting new students within 90 days.  Warren said Teen Challenge, as a faith-based organization, continuously faces challenges building partnerships.

Steve Arndt: Results of the 2014 Iowa Youth Survey are out, and can be accessed on the web.

Dale Woolery: Preliminary 2016 Iowa Byrne JAG award notices will go out very soon.  Governor Branstad has certified that Iowa is compliant with the federal Prison Rape Elimination Act.  Dale also handed out a new DEA brochure ODCP is sharing to help educate Iowans on “marijuana concentrates.”  Steve L. said Iowa law enforcement increasingly reports finding hash oils, marijuana waxes and marijuana-infused edibles suspected of having elevated levels of THC.  Steve L. also mentioned that regarding cannabidiol oil (CBD), legalized last year to treat intractable epilepsy, FDA-sanctioned clinical trials on the CBD product “Epidiolex” are underway in Iowa City, and will begin soon in Ames.

Jason Sandholdt: Iowa’s annual Law Enforcement Coordinating Conference is currently underway in Coralville, and human trafficking is a hot topic.  Another hot button policy issue is truth in sentencing, something the Iowa State Sheriffs and Deputies Association may want to explore in the coming year.  Jason said that as Sheriff of Marion County, he sees some hard core criminals in what seems like a revolving door, where they are convicted and incarcerated for original crimes, and then released back into the community where they relapse and reoffend.  He asked Steve A. about substance abuse treatment relapse rates.  Steve said Iowa’s Outcomes Monitoring Survey actually shows about 50% of those receiving treatment remain abstinent six months later, and that an evaluation of jail based treatment reflects a recidivism rate of about 15%.  Jason may follow up on his concerns with Katrina, to better understand the views of DOC and the Board of Parole.  A couple options mentioned: a snapshot review of criminal cases involving recidivism or relapse and greater use of offender risk assessments.

Katrina McKibben: In light of limited resources and feedback from some probation and parole officers, as well as Sheriff Sandholdt’s concerns, Katrina asked whether DOC should offer substance abuse treatment in prisons.  On one hand, she’s heard that at least one community provider may not deem offenders who receive treatment in prison as needing further treatment upon release.  But, Jason’s comments suggest otherwise.  Katrina may follow up with Kathy Stone for guidance.  Warren said he would be interested in possibly helping with prison treatment needs, and will discuss potential access options with Katrina.

Jane Larkin: This is National Substance Abuse Prevention Week and Mental Health Awareness Month, with supportive activities underway across the State.  She continues to hear about an increase in the use of e-cigarettes by students in Story County.  Her agency—Youth and Shelter Services of Ames—is working with schools, including Iowa State University, on e-cigarette policies similar to smoke or tobacco-free policies.  She also noted the prevalence of prescription drug abuse and meth use in the YSS service area.  Jane said longtime YSS Director George Belitsos is retiring, and will be replaced by Andrew Allen later this year.

Jennifer Miller: Stronger synthetic drug control legislation is something the Iowa County Attorney’s Association supports, and she has been working on it.  Jennifer said one part of HF 567 that policy makes have not yet agreed on would expand the ability to prosecute elusive synthetic drugs as “imitation” controlled substances.  She added that civil asset forfeiture reform is expected to be a legislative agenda item next year.

Next meeting will be announced at a later time. There being no other business, the meeting was adjourned. 

Dale R. Woolery

Steven F. Lukan, Coordinator