The New York City Mayor, Bill de Blasio, D, has just under 10 weeks left in office. With such little time left, his office is pushing to open two pilot safe consumption sites within the city. This comes after the City Council funded a study into safe consumption sites in 2016, with results released in 2018. These locations would open for one year before the city decides if the sites should remain in operation.
This announcement follows VOCAL-NY, a local non-profit which advocates for drug users, attended a mayoral forum and brought up the research results. Back in 2018, with former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, D, up for reelection, he placed the city initiative on hold indefinitely. Now with Cuomo resigned, and Governor Kathy Hochul, D, the New York Governor, VOCAL-NY is pushing for safe consumption sites.
Governor Hochul is onboard with safe consumption sites as she lost her nephew a few years ago to an opioid overdose, which the CDC reports as the main cause for overdoses and related deaths in the city. Recently, Hochul signed several bills to combat the opioid crisis, something VOCAL-NY is in full support of.
Jeremy Saunders, the co-executive director of VOCAL-NY, spoke with reporters about this most recent push for safe consumption sites. “It really just shows how far we’ve come politically to committing good public policy over criminalization and ending the drug war that Mayor de Blasio, Eric Adams, and it appears even Kathy Hochul are all aligned in the need to create overdose prevention centers, along with a number of public policy initiatives to end overdose and the war on drugs.”
However, before New York City’s health department gets the green light to move forward with safe consumption sites, they must receive a letter from the U.S. Attorney General, Merrick Garland. His office must state the federal government won’t go after cities and states for opening safe consumption sites. This would be a similar statement to the Obama administration’s response to cannabis legalization in states.
It’s unlikely this letter will come before the White House Director of Drug Policy becomes confirmed by the Senate. There is currently no timeline on that vote. Until the letter is received, Mayor de Blasio will get things prepared for safe consumption sites. Then he will green light the pilot project once the letter is received. Until then, New York City citizens will have to wait a while longer for safe consumption sites. As more information becomes available, we will update you with the latest.
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