The attorney general's office says local ordinances to ban pain clinics are illegal.
The assistant attorney general issued the ruling after the Johnson County Judge-Executive asked if a county ordinance against pain clinics was allowed.
Johnson County officials say pills are the biggest problem in the county.
“Pain pills are killing more Kentuckians than automobile accidents, and that's a terrible statistic,” Johnson County Judge Executive Tucker Daniel said.
The Fiscal Court wanted to do something, especially after the DEA and Attorney General's office raided two Johnson County pain clinics in February in an investigation into alleged "over-prescription" of pills.
The Fiscal Court considered an ordinance banning pain clinics in the county, but the Attorney General's office issued an opinion saying such a ban is illegal for county and city governments to enforce.
“The attorney general's opinion is pretty clear. It's not something that can be done locally. We regret that,” Judge Executive Daniel said.
The nine page ruling states only the Kentucky state medical licensure board has the authority to regulate doctors and medical practices and any bans must come from the Kentucky general assembly.
“They have an obligation in my opinion, to the people of Kentucky to do something about this problem,” Jusge Executive Daniel said.
State Senator Ray Jones says legislation regulating pain clinics failed in this year's general assembly but says he plans to file another bill in the next session.
Meanwhile, Daniel says police in Johnson County will monitor the pill problem, “We're very concerned about this kind of activity going on in Johnson County and we'll do anything we can legally to help prevent it.”
The Attorney General's office did not want to comment on the opinion and said the "ruling speaks for itself."
There is no word yet on what this might mean for counties that already have ordinances banning pain clinics in place.