The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) anticipates receiving $1.4 million in opioid settlement money by summer.
Last year, Public Law (PL) 36-64 established the Opioid Recovery Trust Fund for the explicit purpose of receiving settlement proceeds.
Guam is set to receive $11.9 million in settlement funds which are set to be used to combat Guam’s drug problem.
The funds come from a settlement “with over 50 jurisdictions who settled over 4,000 claims against the nation’s three major pharmaceutical distributors–Cardinal, McKesson, and AmerisourceBergen–and Johnson & Johnson, which manufactured and marketed opioids,” according to the OAG.
In the next four years Guam is set to receive $4.4 million across the next 4 years, and this summer we can expect to get $1.4 million.
From 2026 through 2038, Guam is expected to receive anywhere from $524k to $1.1M each year, totaling $11.9 million. The money is locked in a trust fund that can only be used for related programs to support people struggling with opioid drug abuse disorder. There is some elasticity in its use, as the money is not limited to opioids.
“If you are struggling with ice, which is the biggest drug problem we have here in Guam, and you’re getting counseling, you will be able to use these programs and these funds–the services that are available to help anyone struggling with addiction and substance abuse issues,” Attorney General (AG) Leevin T. Camacho told PNC.
The funding will, in part, be used to strengthen community and support for those struggling with addiction.
“Some of the concrete things we learned that we need as a community is transition housing, where you have people waiting for a spot from one of our direct service providers who don’t have a place to stay outside of an environment where they are tempted to use,” added Camacho. “And we have folks who completed in-patient and are waiting to be employed, but then they don’t have housing either. We have folks who need transportation to get to counseling, to get to these support centers.”
Opioid Advisory Council
PL 36-64 also established an advisory council to direct spending priorities to maximize its implementation across the island. The advisory council consists of 11 members from the judiciary of Guam, 2 governor-appointed representatives from the Tohge Corporation, Guam behavioral, Guam Memorial Hospital, the Speaker of the Legislature, the Minority Council, among others.
“The intention is to create a diverse group and people who have actually recovered,” said Camacho.
He added that it’s one thing to come from a law enforcement perspective; it’s another for it to come directly from someone who has experience.
In the next meeting, the council will discuss the classification of naloxone, which is a drug that reverses the effects of opioids during an overdose.
Current law, according to Camacho, still classifies naloxone as a schedule I substance. “But other jurisdictions, because it saves lives, have moved to declassifying it. You can’t get high off of it; it’s only used to reverse overdoses.”
Other programs will heavily focus on prevention and outreach programs to our youth.
Attorney General Camacho also announced the launch of a resource page that provides information on the settlement agreements, a schedule of the release of funds, and other points of interest the Council acts on.