CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Less than two months after being appointed as director of the West Virginia Office of Drug Control Policy, Michael Brumage has stepped down.

The state Department of Health and Human Resources said in a statement that Brumage’s resignation Friday was effective immediately. He was appointed by Gov. Jim Justice on Feb. 5.

In a statement, Brumage said he could best serve people through his work with the West Virginia University School of Public Health and “away from the distractions of recent events.”

Brumage, former executive director of the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department, had defended that county’s needle exchange program amid criticism in recent weeks. The Gazette-Mail reports Charleston officials have criticized the program, which was established to reduce the spread of infectious disease among drug users.

Brumage told the newspaper Friday the needle exchange “has become a contentious issue. It’s in everyone’s best interest that I don’t comment any further on it.”

Jim Johnson, who held the drug czar job before Brumage, stepped down January after about four months on the job.

Office of Drug Control Police program manager Susie Mullens has been named interim director.

Information from: The Charleston Gazette-Mail,

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