WAUSAU - Wisconsin's attorney general knows people need to take responsibility for preventing opioid addictions, but he also believes drug manufacturers share in that responsibility.
Josh Kaul told Newswatch 12 during a stop in Wausau Tuesday that he believes one of the best ways to get those people help is through suing drug manufacturers.
Wisconsin sued Purdue Pharma and the company's former president in state court last month. Kaul says the company misled people by "overstating" the benefits and downplaying the harm opioid prescriptions can produce.
He thinks money from a lawsuit could generate more informational and treatment programs for addicts, calling opioid and meth abuse the "most significant public safety issue" Wisconsin faces.
"[We need to let] people know that even if they're taking something that's prescribed by a doctor, they can still become addicted and they need to make sure they're using the medication appropriately," Kaul said.
Kaul admitted other drugs, such as Fentanyl, have become more prevalent in Wisconsin since the state started cracking down on methamphetamines, but it can't stop the fight.
"When you enforce the laws that relate to one particular narcotic, it's true that other dangerous ones can pop up, but we need to make sure that our enforcement efforts are targeting the most serious and most dangerous drugs," Kaul said.
More than 900 people died from opioid overdoses in Wisconsin in 2017.
Kaul thinks a different drug, just made legal Tuesday in Illinois, could help cut back on addictions. Illinois' governor signed a bill into law legalizing small amounts of recreational marijuana.
Wisconsin likely won't take that same step in 2019, but the attorney general would like to see the state legalize the medicinal version.
Kaul thinks people facing serious pain issues would benefit from medical marijuana. Wisconsin would join 33 other states and the District of Columbia that allow medical marijuana.
"I think we could use the money that we raise as a state from the sale of medical marijuana to help address some of these problems like the opioid epidemic and meth addiction," Kaul said.
Kaul says recreational marijuana should be debated if and when medical marijuana becomes legal.
RHINELANDER - The city of Rhinelander took a municipal well offline after its water was found to contain excessive levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), according to the Oneida County Health Department and the city.
Since that well is turned off, "the public water system is ok to drink," stated the health department release.
"Based on current, available information, we can conclude that the water is not considered a potential threat to health and is safe to drink," read the city's release.
Some studies have shown people with PFAS expose may be at risk of increased cholesterol levels, worsening response to vaccines, a higher risk of thyroid disease, lower fertility in women, and an elevated risk of high blood pressure in pregnant women.
RHINELANDER - The City of Rhinelander told residents this week its municipal water is safe to drink, responding to concerns of elevated chemical levels in city water.
On Monday night, the city said it had shut down Well 7 on June 24 after a test for perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) came back showing excessive levels.
But on Tuesday morning, the Oneida County Health Department couldn't offer a similar assurance about the purity of private wells in the area.
PFAS refers to a group of manmade chemicals that may cause higher cholesterol, low infant birthweights, and lower female fertility, among other health risks. The manmade chemical is found in products like food wrappers, stain-resistant fabrics, and nail polish.
RHINELANDER - Running the master streamer on a Rhinelander firetruck gave Nick Heise a sense of control over an exciting situation this morning. The junior firefighter got the chance to do something he s never done before: go into a burning building and put out the fire.
"You can call us crazy, but we actually like to do it," Heise said. "Fire rolling over our heads and got to play with it and learn some stuff about fire behavior."
Rhinelander firefighters were practicing controlled burns along Ohlson Lane, just behind the Home Depot. Crews lit four sets of fires, with two on the top floor and two on the ground level, then burned the whole thing down and worked on putting that out.
RACINE - A Racine woman is accused of leaving her 3-year-old grandson in a hot vehicle while she shopped at the Dollar Tree.
A criminal complaint says police were called when someone spotted the toddler in the vehicle with the windows up Friday when temperatures were in the 90s. The complaint says first responders broke a window to rescue the boy who was "limp and very warm to the touch."
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