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West VIrginia’s drug czar steps down


Charleston Gazette-Mail

Jim Johnson

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia’s drug czar resigned Thursday, after a little more than four months on the job.

Jim Johnson, director of the state’s new Office of Drug Control Policy, was hired to help lead the effort to reduce drug overdose deaths. West Virginia has the highest fatal overdose rate in the nation.

Johnson’s sudden departure comes just days after the release of a preliminary report on ways to combat the opioid epidemic. Johnson had served on a panel of experts that drew up the report. A final report is expected before the end of the month.

Johnson, who started the job Sept. 2, spoke at a House of Delegates committee meeting last week, but he gave no hint that he was planning to step down.

In a news release Thursday, West Virginia health officials characterized Johnson’s departure as a “retirement.” Johnson will work part-time for the state on unspecified “special projects.”

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