Jul 29, 2015 7:01 PM

Landrigan: NH drug czar gets a vote of confidence, albeit with some GOP misgivings


CONCORD - Under fire for a slow start poor communication, the state’s drug czar won a vote of confidence [-] albeit one with misgivings [-] from legislative budget writers.

"Each and every one of them needs to be exposed to standardized, acceptable education on opioid practice and pain management. That would not be happening if my job did not exist.’’

State drug czar Jack Wozmak going on the offensive asking the Legislative Fiscal Committee to keep him on the job paid for through a non-profit grant until the end December

A frustrated Senate Republican critic says Wozmak has failed to bring all parties together behind a cohesive strategy.

"We are about to spend upwards to $100 to $150 million fighting the opioid problem that we have today and I think it’s incumbent on us to find the person that can consolidate, lead the effort, lead the charge,’’ said Sen. Andy Sanborn, R-Bedford.

Coming to Wozmak’s defense, a who’s who in politics and law enforcement, Manchester Police Chief Nick Williard, Attorney General Joe Foster, the New Hampshire Hospital Association and Safety Commissioner John Barthlemes.

Together the impressive lobbying effort swayed the most important legislator, the chief architect of the Senate budget.

So based on what they have said to me I am taking a leap of faith when it comes to the position,’’ said Sen. Jeanie Forrester, R-Meredith.

Forrester says the fact the money to pay Wozmak’s $91,000 annual salary comes from a New Hampshire Charitable Foundation grant and not state dollars was a factor.

But as a longtime member of the state’s substance abuse commission, Forrester questioned why Wozmak was taking the state in a different direction than that policy group.

For example Wozmak has said having drug courts across the state needs to be a top priority, though Forrester said the commission has put that reform much farther down the state’s list of priorities.


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