RELEASE: Laws to expand access to syringes passed by New Jersey Senate and Assembly

RELEASE: Laws to expand access to syringes passed by New Jersey Senate and Assembly

January 10, 2022 – Today, the New Jersey Legislature passed sweeping legislation, sponsored by Senator Joseph Vitale and Congresswoman Valerie Vainieri-Huttle, to expand access to syringe services, which are essential public health tools to end the overdose crisis.

The Syringe Access Bill (S-3009 / A-4847) will expand access to Essential Syringe Access Programs (SAPs) statewide by removing the requirement for a municipal restraining order and aligning EWS with other public health services. The Syringe Decrim Bill (S-3493 / A-5458) will decriminalize the possession of syringes and allow the expungement of previous convictions.

“This is a huge victory for public health. The overdose crisis raged during the COVID pandemic with overdose deaths reported higher than ever, ”said Senator Joseph Vitale. “Harm reduction centers provide essential services to people with substance use disorders and this bill will significantly expand their footprint so that all people in need can access these vital resources. “

“The truth is, harm reduction services save countless lives every year here in New Jersey,” said MP Valerie Vainieri Huttle. “Harm reduction is about leading with empathy and working to find resources, not penalties. We must do all we can to support and expand these services to reach all of our communities. “

According to the CDC, people who have access to syringe service programs are less likely to die from a fatal overdose, five times more likely to start a drug treatment program, three times more likely to stop using drug chaotic and 50% less. more likely to contract HIV and hepatitis C than people without access.

“This bill is a game-changer because it removes the biggest barrier to opening new syringe access programs in the state,” said Jenna Mellor, executive director of the New Jersey Harm Reduction Coalition. “Harm reduction is the best tool we have to end the overdose crisis, and this legislation will ensure residents all across New Jersey have access to this life-saving care. New Jersey is losing more residents than ever to overdose deaths, so we can’t go on as usual. We congratulate Senator Vitale and MP Huttle for defending this legislation aimed at expanding access to needle exchanges, saving the Oasis Drop-In Center in Atlantic City and recognizing the dignity and humanity of the people. who use drugs.

“The South Jersey AIDS Alliance applauds the bold action of the New Jersey legislature to protect and expand access to syringes in New Jersey. Today’s vote secures health care services for some of New Jersey’s most vulnerable residents, ”said Carol Harney, CEO of South Jersey AIDS Alliance, which operates the Oasis drop-in center in Atlantic. City. “Harm reduction programs have been proven to reduce the incidence rate of HIV / AIDS and other blood-borne pathogens and provide a gateway to drug therapy and non-judgmental care. I applaud our lawmakers for trusting science rather than stigma. “

“It’s a joyful time for people who use drugs across our state and a reminder that we all deserve to have access to decent care. By passing these harm reduction bills today, our elected leaders have chosen the health and dignity of each of us – their constituents – over stigma and discrimination, ”said Caitlin O’Neill , Director of Harm Reduction Services for the New Jersey Harm Reduction Coalition. “Many lives will be saved with the expansion of harm reduction centers and the decriminalization of syringes in New Jersey, and the inherent worth and humanity of many will be enhanced. This is a step towards ending the overdose crisis in New Jersey, repairing the harms of the racist war on drugs and finally building the systems of care that will keep us all alive and safe, no matter where we lay our heads. Now on to the implementation! “

“This legislation allows for the expansion of syringe access services, which is absolutely necessary. New Jersey has been hit hard by the overdose crisis, and the expansion of rescue services will ensure that we can provide service to those who need it most, and that we will be able to do so when the data indicates. a need, ”said Axel Torres Marrero, Senior Director of Public Policy and Prevention at the Hyacinth AIDS Foundation. “Public health will lead the way in service delivery. We are very grateful to our sponsors, Senators Vitale, Gopal and Gill, as well as Assembly members Huttle, Quijana and Verreli.

“A big thank you to New Jersey lawmakers who chose public health over parochialism and enacted legislation that will improve health outcomes and save the lives of our neighbors. Everyone deserves to have access to evidence-based health services, ”said Jennifer Oliva, professor and director of the Center for Health and Pharmaceutical Law at Seton Hall University School of Law.

“Passing this bill is a huge achievement for public health in the state of New Jersey. Our harm reduction advocates statewide will now have better access to our most vulnerable communities, ”said Shannon Preston, director of community HIV services at the Visiting Nurse Association of Central Jersey. “It’s not just about syringe access sites, it’s about improving the health and well-being of entire communities through better access to health care, overdose prevention, support services and education. “

“The Syringe Access Bill increases the opportunity for clients to have easier access to services and resources within their communities,” said Martha Chavis, Executive Director and CEO of Camden Area Health Education Center.

“This is what a public health approach to the overdose crisis looks like,” said Marleina Ubel, policy analyst at New Jersey Policy Perspective (NJPP). “Harm reduction services, like those provided during needle exchanges, meet people where they are and help them not only stay alive, but also thrive. We applaud the sponsors and supporters of the bill who made this legislation possible and urge Governor Murphy to enact it. “

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The New Jersey Harm Reduction Coalition promotes harm reduction by distributing naloxone, fentanyl test steps and other harm reduction supplies through peer-led programs; advocates for increased access to syringes and for a fair reform of drug policies; and is organizing to empower those directly affected by drug overdoses and the war on drugs.

To request naloxone (brand name Narcan) and Safer Use Supplies, shipped free and confidential throughout New Jersey, call / text 1-877-4NARCAN or visit www.nextdistro.org/newjersey

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