AUGUSTA — Members of the Legislature’s education committee ditched a plan Tuesday that would have required state education officials to tell local districts how to teach drug prevention classes, and instead said the state should develop better recommendations for local schools.

After a discussion about the importance of drug abuse prevention amid the state’s opioid addiction crisis and heroin deaths, the Education and Cultural Affairs Committee voted unanimously to support a joint resolution that would ask the Maine Department of Education to flesh out its existing guidelines on substance abuse education.

“(It) signals back to our schools that the fire needs to stay lit, reaffirming that this remains a critical aspect of what we expect to happen in our schools, while calling for fleshing out the policy guidelines from DOE,” said Sen. Rebecca Millett, D-Cape Elizabeth.

The move came after the committee voted ought-not-to-pass unanimously on L.D. 1594, a bill introduced by House Majority Leader Jeff McCabe, D-Skowhegan, that would have required the Department of Education to develop a substance abuse education policy for middle school and high school students.

Currently, the state requires all schools to have such a policy, and offers guidelines and resources to develop it, but leaves it to local districts to create the actual policy.

All the committee members spoke in favor of better education, but struggled with how to provide it.

A committee member, Rep. Paul Stearns, R-Guilford, said he “expected school systems to update their curriculum to the latest standards, and for DOE, with input from other agencies, to make sure we’re doing every possible thing we can do.”

The committee made the switch from the bill to a resolve after hearing from two members of a task force of the Maine Opiate Collaborative, which is exploring, among other initiatives, the best way to educate young people about addiction and prevention. Its draft report is expected to be complete this spring.

The joint resolve will instruct the Department of Education to collaborate with the task force on its findings as it puts together more resources for local districts.

The committee’s Senate chairman, Brian Langley, R-Ellsworth, said he preferred an option to allow local districts to create their own curriculum, instead of the state dictating curriculum.

“(A local plan) has a much better chance for success,” he said. “But I understand the drive behind this. We are not winning this war, and what else can we do to win it?”