Counties not allowed to ban pain clinics, attorney general says

County governments are not allowed to prevent pain-management clinics from opening within their limits, the state attorney general’s office has found.

“Because such local ordinances infringe on the state’s right to regulate medical practices, counties cannot ban legal practices within their lines,” the Lexington Herald-Leader‘s Dori Hjalmarson and Bill Estep report.
The finding, written by Assistant Attorney General James Herrick, comes after Johnson County officials asked for Attorney General Jack Conway’s opinion about bans on the clinics, which prescribe addictive painkillers like oxycodone. Owsley County and Booneville, which are also considering bans, likewise made requests to enact an ordinance “to declare pain clinics to be ‘unlawful and … a public nuisance, subject to closure,'” the opinion reads. Several counties have already called the clinics a public nuisance, thereby discouraging their operation.
But only state and federal governments have the right to regulate medical practices, the opinion says. “We fully acknowledge the scale and depth of the social problems posed by narcotics trafficking in Kentucky,” Herrick wrote. “Nevertheless, to the extent that the proposed action might provide a remedy, the enactment of that remedy is reserved to the General Assembly.”
Though three state Senate bills were proposed earlier this year that would have regulated pain clinics, they never made it past committee. “I am ashamed of our state legislature’s lack of backbone and not having the courage to pass the legislation desperately needed to help solve the problem,” Johnson County Judge-Executive Tucker Daniel said. (Read more)
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