Assemblymember Phil Steck (D-Colonie) announced two bills he co-sponsored and helped pass to enhance drug treatment and services were signed into law. These laws will establish a medication-assisted treatment (MAT) program for inmates struggling with opioid addiction (Ch. 432 of 2021) and decriminalize the possession and sale of hypodermic needles (Ch. 433 of 2021).
“While we’ve made great strides combating the COVID-19 pandemic, the disruption of the past year and half has exacerbated the opioid epidemic and increased rates of substance use,” Steck said. “I supported these lifesaving measures to help curb the spread of communicable diseases and ensure vital programs reach those struggling with substance use disorders. I’ll continue to be an advocate for those who are battling addiction and fight for the resources to help them on the road to recovery.”
Syringe access programs are highly effective at reducing the spread of infectious diseases, such as hepatitis C and HIV, but state law has prevented access to harm reduction services, Steck noted. The new law that he helped pass strengthens and expands syringe access by allowing pharmacies and health care agencies to provide an unlimited amount of hypodermic needles. Additionally, possessing these instruments will also be decimalized.
He also helped pass a law to establish a MAT program for inmates with opioid addiction. Despite the fact that more than half of incarcerated New Yorkers are diagnosed with substance use disorder, state correctional facilities have not implemented extensive MAT programs, Steck noted.