Lawmakers In Three States Advance Bills To Legalize Safe Drug Consumption Sites!

Bills to allow safe consumption locations, where people can consume currently illegal narcotics under medical supervision and obtain resources for substance abuse therapy, have been adopted by lawmakers in Colorado, New Mexico, and New York.

Three more states are attempting to emphasize harm reduction as officials around the nation deal with the overdose issue. Legislation to establish safe consumption facilities is moving forward in the Colorado House, the New York Assembly Health Committee, and two panels of the New Mexico House. The later proposals will now be debated on the floor of their respective houses, while Colorado’s plan will be heard in the Senate.


A bill by Rep. Elisabeth Epps (D) that would allow cities all around the state to authorize the development of overdose prevention centers was adopted by the Colorado House earlier this month.

According to the bill text, the Local Control of Life-saving Overdose Prevention Centers Act would give people access to harm reduction services like counseling, fentanyl testing equipment, sterile consumption equipment, and other services.

Municipalities now have to hold a public hearing before approving the creation of safe consumption places, thanks to the amendment. Last Monday, it was approved by the entire House on a vote of 43 to 21.

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Lawmakers In Three States Advance Bills To Legalize Safe Drug Consumption Sites!

According to the results portion of the measure, preventable drug overdoses are a public health epidemic that affects every Colorado community and is a cause for both local and state concern. Colorado has for far too long prioritized public health over a criminal justice strategy to treating substance use disorders.

It goes on to say that overdose prevention facilities have been shown to save lives and improve community safety. OPCs contribute to a decline in the spread of communicable diseases, a sharp decline in drug use in public, a significant decline in the disposal of drug-use utensils in public areas, and a decline in crime in the areas immediately surrounding OPCs.

New Mexico

The harm reduction program in New Mexico would be expanded to include an overdose prevention program under a measure from Representative Tara Lujan (D). This would give users access to safe consumption facilities.

The proposal was approved by the House Health & Human Services Committee last month, and it was approved by the Judiciary Committee earlier this month with a small data-gathering amendment.

The bill text states that the overdose prevention program must give participants a clean, safe area where they can administer and use previously obtained controlled substances while being watched by staff members who have been educated in overdose reversal.

Lawmakers In Three States Advance Bills To Legalize Safe Drug Consumption Sites!

It makes it clear that, unless otherwise permitted by law, participants in harm reduction or overdose prevention programs may not buy, sell, trade, or otherwise get controlled substances.

The legislation forbids officials from gathering participants’ personal information, such as their full name, address, or date of birth, even though the state Department of Health would be required to gather data to aid in planning and evaluating efforts to combat overdose mortality and other detrimental health outcomes linked to drug use.

The Judiciary Committee changed the clause to make an exception for situations in which personal data must be gathered in order to conduct tests, treat contagious diseases, or provide other medical care.

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New York

The bill from Democratic Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal in New York was approved by the committee on Tuesday. It would necessitate the state Department of Health approve at least one overdose prevention facility that offers a sterile setting for users of previously acquired substances, with medical staff on hand to prevent overdose deaths and give treatment referrals.

Additionally, the facilities would have to keep up syringe exchange programs, instruct customers on safe consuming habits, offer naloxone to reverse opioid overdoses, and compile general information on participants and their experiences. Personnel and participants would not be prosecuted for the authorized actions.

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We have a moral responsibility to combat the opioid overdose problem afflicting our family, friends, and neighbors across the state using all of the tools in our toolkit. In a news release, Rosenthal, whose earlier version of the bill passed the same committee during the last session. So many addicts in New York were cruelly kept in prison for years on end instead of receiving the treatment they needed and deserved.

Authorizing [overdose prevention centers] would make it evident to the rest of the nation that New York State is adopting harm reduction techniques that have been shown to be effective in saving lives and connecting people to assistance, she added.

Opening the first city-approved safe consumption locations in late 2021, New York City took the lead in spreading that message and claims that they have already saved lives.

According to research by the American Medical Association (AMA), facilities in New York City have reduced the risk of overdose, discouraged users from using in public, and offered additional health services to users of currently illegal substances.

Throughout state legislatures and Congress this year, Marijuana is monitoring more than 1,000 cannabis, psychedelic, and drug policy measures.

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Nora Volkow, the director of the National Institute on Drug Addiction (NIDA), indirectly accepted the concept of approving safe consumption sites last year, claiming that the facilities had been proven to successfully prevent overdose deaths.

While Volkow has frequently advocated for harm reduction strategies to approach addiction as a public health issue, her comments about safe injection facilities stand out, particularly given that the Justice Department is currently engaged in litigation that began after the Trump administration opposed the opening of such a facility in Philadelphia.

In order to finally achieve a settlement after multiple delays, DOJ and that NGO recently agreed to shift the issue involving the legality of safe drug use places out of federal district court and to mediation before a magistrate judge.

As part of a comprehensive strategy for harm reduction and public safety, the department stated last year that it was actively reviewing supervised consumption locations, including discussions with state and local regulators regarding suitable guardrails for such sites.

The White House drug czar also suggested that decriminalization would be an option when he stated last year that the Biden administration is exploring larger drug policy harm reduction measures, such as the approval of supervised consumption locations.

Rahul Gupta, the director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), stated that the suggestion to eliminate the current federal ban is on the table even though the Biden administration is looking into the therapeutic effectiveness of such facilities.

In a previous statement, Gupta stressed the importance of exploring all available options for reducing overdose mortality, which may include providing safe consumption locations for illegal substances if the research shows that they are effective.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) secretary, Xavier Becerra, has also hinted that the Biden administration won’t take any action to stop the development of safe injection sites, highlighting the fact that we’re trying to literally give addicts a lifeline.

Later, however, a department official took back those statements, saying that HHS does not have a position on supervised consumption locations and that the matter is the subject of active litigation. In any case, the DOJ would be in charge of deciding whether to prosecute facility operators under the Controlled Substances Act.


Mohit Kumar

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