Lansing — Gov. Rick Snyder on Tuesday signed an executive order creating a new council meant to ease issues between local, state and federal government in addressing widespread opioid abuse.

With Lt. Gov. Brian Calley as its chairman, the Council on Opioid & Prescription Drug Enforcement is tasked with coordinating investigations, sharing information on trends, goals, major cases and making sure one group does not step on the toes of another in the government’s effort to fight an epidemic that has led to thousands of Michigan deaths since 2010.

“We must ensure all partners are working together effectively if we are going to combat this epidemic and protect all Michiganders,” Snyder said in a statement. “This council will open up the lines of communication and allow for a better use of resources while working to reduce opioid abuse and prevent addiction from occurring in the first place.”

Calley will meet with state and federal officials, including those from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency and Prosecuting Attorneys Association of Michigan, once a month to discuss information on curbing opioid abuse.

The order comes on the heels of Snyder’s 2015 State of the State address in which he called for “a comprehensive plan to address prescription drug and opioid abuse across Michigan,” Snyder’s executive order said.

His office recommended better relationships and communication between various levels of government in a later opioid task force report.

Directors of the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs and the Michigan State Police are on the council. The Attorney General’s Office and other agencies will work with them.

“The opioid epidemic is destroying lives and families every day,” Calley said in a statement. “It is an emergency and we need to go above and beyond to combat it. I’m proud to lead this council and improve coordination among everyone involved so that we can save more lives and prevent addiction from occurring.”

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