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One bill wasn’t enough–see why Maryland passed three opioid litigation bills

July 27, 2022

In 2019, Maryland became one of the first states to pass legislation related to the opioid litigation. House Bill 1274 created the Opioid Restitution Fund for any money coming to the state as a result of opioid-related litigation. The bill also described acceptable ways to spend funds on substance use mitigation and included a prohibition on using the dollars to supplant existing funding.

Maryland legislators passed two additional bills in 2022.

  • House Bill 1086 set up a program to distribute funds from the settlements with the distributors and Johnson & Johnson.
  • House Bill 0794 established an Advisory Council for the Opioid Restitution Fund.

We spoke with Delegate Samuel Rosenberg, the lead sponsor of HB 1274 in 2019 and the two additional Maryland bills, about Maryland’s approach.

According to Delegate Rosenberg, Maryland’s early decision to create this fund was based on the state’s previous experience with the tobacco lawsuit of the 1990’s. Following the landmark Tobacco Master Settlement, Maryland General Assembly passed a law creating the Cigarette Restitution Fund. Delegate Rosenberg said that the state was ready to take similar action when their Attorney General filed lawsuits against the opioid manufacturers, distributors, and retailers.

In 2022, the state passed two new bills, both sponsored by Rosenberg, who explained that these additional bills were driven by several advocacy groups across the state. House Bill 0794 outlines the structure of a Council who will make recommendations on how to allocate dollars from the fund to communities in need. Consistent with Principle 5, the Council explicitly includes people with lived experience and outlines that the Council should represent the diversity of the state.

When asked what advice he would give to other states, Delegate Rosenberg encouraged all states–even if they have already passed legislation–to reassess what they have done and expand their legislation where needed so that it addresses the needs of people who have opioid use disorder and their families, as well as reducing opioid addiction in the future.

Is your state ready to receive settlement funds? Use these Ten Indicators to assess your readiness.