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New York Health Committee Approves Bill To Establish Safe Drug Consumption Sites

The New York State Health Committee approved bill A224 on Tuesday, which would authorize the State Department of Health and local health jurisdictions to set up and manage safe drug consumption sites. 

Sponsored by Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal (D), the legislation seeks to “reduce overdose deaths associated with opioid use and the dangers to the public caused by public IV drug use.” Individuals would be allowed to use pre-obtained (usually illegal) drugs on the sites under the supervision of healthcare professionals.

After the Health Committee, the bill will be considered by the Codes Committee. Then, if approved, would head to the floor for consideration.

“BREAKING: My legislation, A.224, to authorize overdose prevention centers in New York State just passed the Health Committee. Countries around the world have used #OPCs for decades to help #EndOverdose. Allowing OPCs to operate in NYS will save lives,” Rosenthal tweeted Tuesday. 

The legislation notes that there are around 100 similar programs across 66 cities in nine countries, such as Canada, Germany and Spain. Seattle is also working on creating a safer consumption program, while Maine and Maryland have already presented similar measures. 

Last December, New York City became the first in the nation to open two overdose prevention centers where people can use illicit drugs and receive medical care and services.

With the opioid crisis in the U.S. reaching unprecedented and shocking numbers – 100,000 overdose deaths over a 12-month period – federal health officials announced in February that they are considering alternative approaches to deal with the disastrous health crisis. To that end, the Justice Department signaled it might consider safe drug consumption sites, and look at “appropriate guardrails.”

Photo: Courtesy of Matthias Kinsella on Unsplash

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