Assemblymember Linda B Rosenthal Announces Safer Consumption Services Act Bill Moves for First Time

Bill A.224 reported out of Assembly Health Committee, now heads to Codes Committee for consideration

New York, NY – Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal (D/WF-Manhattan) today announced that her legislation, bill A.224the Safer Consumption Services Act (SCSA), was reported out of the Health Committee and now heads to the Codes Committee. SCS are vital harm reduction tools that help prevent fatal overdoses. The first SCS opened in 1986 in Berne, Switzerland and they have been in continuous operation since. No one has ever died in a SCS.

“Every year when New York’s overdose numbers are released, we are stunned that they are worse than the last. Despite our alarm, we continue to debate SCS, which is even more absurd now that SCS have saved more than 150 lives in New York City in less than a year,” said Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal. We didn’t have the luxury of time when I first introduced the bill back in 2015, and we do not now. This year alone, New York State lost nearly 3,00 people in the first six months of 2021 to preventable overdose, yet New York is leaving a critical tool unused in the toolbox.”

 SCS, which operate in 66 cities in dozens of countries across the world, are proven to help reduce overdose deaths and to connect people with addiction treatment and other supportive services. SCS are staffed with professionals who are trained to identify an overdose and quickly administer naloxone, a drug capable of reversing an overdose if given quickly and correctly.

 In one of the final acts of the previous Administration, in November 2021 the City of New York gave the green light to two SCS sites operated by OnPoint NYC in East Harlem and Washington Heights. In their first three months in operation the two sites have prevented more than 150 overdoses and provided services to more than 800 people during about 9,500 visits.

“Increasing the number of SCS sites operating in New York City and across the State won’t lead to an increase in drug use like some critics claim, but it will certainly save more lives, while providing people with clean syringes to prevent the transmission of HIV and HepC and connecting people with opportunities to access treatment and other supportive services,” said Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal. “Given the evidence, it would be irresponsible for New York not to authorize SCS statewide.”

The bill would provide a regulatory framework for the State and municipalities to approve and site SCS. It would allow SCS to operate out of existing syringe exchange programs, which are highly regulated points of community access to harm reduction services that are not permitted to operate near schools or day care programs.

Safehouse, the first SCS to open in the United States in Philadelphia, PA, yesterday agreed to extend the deadline for settlement negotiations with the United States Department of Justice. Though a federal court ruled that Safehouse violated a 1980s federal law prohibiting the operation of a “crack house,” the Biden Administration appears more receptive to the harm reduction approach than its predecessor. A June 23, 2022, deadline has been set for negotiations, which advocates hope will result in federal approval of SCS.

From Health, the bill will be reported to the Codes Committee and then Rules Committee before it can be taken up on the floor of the Assembly for a full vote. The bill, which is sponsored by State Senator Gustavo Rivera, is in the State Senate’s Health Committee.