The Department of Justice (“DOJ”) is evaluating the authorization of harm reduction centers for people to use currently illicit drugs in a supervised environment and receive treatment resources. New York City became the first state to launch safe drug consumption sites in November 2021. Then Mayor Bill de Blasio (D-NY) said that the so-called Overdose Prevention Centers are an effective option in addressing the opioid crisis. According to the AP, the sites have prevented 125 overdoses.
Advocates are eager to hear the federal government’s response in a lawsuit over a proposal that could see the establishment of similar centers in Philadelphia. As the deadline approaches, the Department of Justice says it’s weighing the lawfulness of such centers and discussing appropriate measures for the programs. The federal department told the AP that it is involved with state and local regulators in discussions as part of a strategy to ensure harm reduction and promote public safety.
The pending Philadelphia case had been filed by Safehouse, a nonprofit organization whose mission to provide harm reduction resources was blocked by the DOJ during Trump’s presidency. The department had previously won that case after the courts decided that the facility’s operations would be violating a 10-year-old drug law.
However, with the current involvement of the department under Biden’s administration, lawyers representing Safehouse said that the statement from the federal government signals a
“positive resolution.” The deadline within for the Justice Department to submit its position is March 7, 2022
Meanwhile, Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY) is opposing these efforts and urging the Justice Department to take action to prevent the creation of such facilities. In November, she expressed her concerns to Attorney General Merrick Garland about New York’s decision to authorize the harm reduction centers. The Republican congresswoman stated that opening such centers would only encourage drug use and further deteriorate the quality of life.
The creation of harm reduction centers or the idea of exploring options to minimize overdose related deaths has received some form of support from government officials. Dr. Rahul Gupta, the White House’s drug czar, recently said that it was important to explore ways to reduce overdose deaths. Xavier Bacerra, the secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, supports the supervised facilities, and while serving as California’s attorney general, he was among the top law enforcement officials who filed an amicus brief in support of Safehouse’s plan.
In addition to New York, Rhode Island signed a bill in July that would see the state establish a pilot program for a safe consumption site. Massachusetts considered a similar bill last year. California’s senate passed its own similar bill allowing for the establishment of overdose prevention programs. Other regions in the world that have harm reduction centers include
Canada, Europe and Australia.
If the federal government gives its nod to safe drug consumption sites, it will be one more chink off the prohibition armor, and marijuana sector players such as Cannabis Strategic Ventures Inc. (OTC: NUGS) can begin to hope for the federal-level overhaul of the existing cannabis laws.
NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to Cannabis Strategic Ventures Inc. (OTC: NUGS) are available in the company’s newsroom at http://cnw.fm/NUGS
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