Justice appoints new director of Office of Drug Control

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Gov. Jim Justice has appointed a new director to oversee West Virginia’s Office of Drug Control Policy.

Justice on Friday appointed Matthew Christiansen to replace Bob Hansen, who announced he was retiring earlier this week. Christiansen practices primary care and addiction medicine at Marshall Health and PROACT, he is also an associate professor at Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine.

Hansen had been the agency’s director since December 2018, making him the third person to oversee the office since it was created by the Legislature in 2017.

“West Virginia’s drug crisis has not taken a break even though we are experiencing a worldwide pandemic,” Justice said in a statement. “Luckily, Dr. Christiansen is familiar with West Virginia’s issues and has worked closely with Bob Hansen. I think he’ll step into the job with one-foot running.”

According to a news release, Christiansen’s appointment is effective immediately and he will transition into the position over the next month.

The Office of Drug Control Policy has reported that the state has seen an increase this year in the number of emergency calls and emergency room visits involving drug overdoses. However, information on fatal overdoses for 2020 won’t be available until next year.

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Kassie Simmons
Kassie Simmons joined the team in January 2019 as a weekend journalist. She graduated from Virginia Tech in just two and a half years with a BA in multimedia journalism. During her short time at Virginia Tech, she served as the editor for the university’s chapter of The Tab. Kassie was named the top reporter for The Tab at Virginia Tech on multiple occasions and made the list for the top 30 reporters for The Tab in the U.S. She also studied theater performance and minored in creative writing. Before coming to WOAY, Kassie interned at WSLS in Roanoke and the Tidewater Review in her hometown of West Point, Va. She has loved following breaking news since her childhood and has a passion for delivering the stories people care most about. Kassie is excited to be working in Southern West Virginia and looks forward to all the adventures ahead of her. You can follow her on Twitter at @KassieLSimmons and like her page on Facebook. If you have a story you think she should check out, send her an email at ksimmons@woay.com.