ALBANY, NY — On January 31, 2023 VOCAL-NY gathered at The War Room in the New York State Capitol with allies, including members of Drug Policy Alliance, OnPoint NYC, P.A.I.N Sackler, Housing Works and staff from the nation’s first Overdose Prevention Centers, for a press conference to push back against Governor Hochul’s proposed plans to increase criminalization to address the overdose crisis, and demand lawmakers implement harm reduction strategies that will actually save lives.
VOCAL-NY and allies are calling for opioid settlement dollars to go towards the Department Of Health, authorization of Overdose Prevention Centers, and decriminalization of Buprenorphine instead of further criminalizing drug users.
Members of the Board and harm reduction advocates were dumbfounded by a letter from Governor Hochul rejecting Opioid Settle Funds be used to support Overdose Prevention Centers (OPCs).
This comes after New York City’s two OPCs run by OnPoint – the first in the nation – have saved nearly 700 lives since opening in November 2021. All while the state has lost over 11,800 New Yorkers to preventable overdoses in just two years.
New York has also appointed an interim Health Commissioner after Dr. Mary Bassett’s departure at the end of last year. The acting commissioner, James V. McDonald, comes from the Rhode Island Department of Health – the state has already committed to using $2 million in opioid settlement money to create Overdose Prevention Centers.
Governor’s Hochul letter rejecting Opioid Settlement Funds to be used to support Overdose Prevention Centers is a major miscalculation for the sake of playing politics – a tactic eerily similar to her predecessor. And, the governor’s answer in the State of the State to the worst overdose crisis in New York’s history is to increase penalties for fentanyl and drug-induced homicide laws that only advance the War on Drugs, rather than the fight to save lives.
Countless lives could be saved across the entire state if OPCs were to receive settlement funding AND if the Governor authorizes the sites to be opened all over New York through executive action. At its end, Governor Hochul is aware of the options she has to support OPCs and yet her blatant inaction is causing more people to die unnecessarily.
© Erik McGregor – firstname.lastname@example.org – 917-225-8963