Democratic Assemblyman David Orentlicher has sponsored AB 115, a bill that would allow county commissioners in Clark and Washoe to establish hygienic spaces for drug use for adults 18 years and older. As written: “this bill authorize the establishment of programs for the prevention of overdoses and disease, which provide a hygienic space where persons who are at least 18 years of age may consume drugs that they have obtained before arriving in the space.” According to the language, ‘the establishment of the program is for the prevention of overdoses and disease.’
After two years, if the program is deemed a success by the State Board of Health, smaller counties (with less than a population of 100,000) will be allowed to establish a similar program.
According to the bill:
This bill authorizes the board of county commissioners in a county whose population is 100,000 or more (currently Clark and Washoe Counties) to authorize the establishment of a program for the prevention of overdoses and disease that operates at one fixed or mobile site upon determining that the program is likely to achieve certain purposes relating to the reduction of harm caused by the consumption of drugs. If such a program operates continuously in such a county for 2 years and achieves those goals, section 6 authorizes the State Board of Health to allow the board of county commissioners of a county whose population is less than 100,000 (currently all counties other than Clark and Washoe Counties) to authorize the establishment of such a program in the county.
Sites must include: staffing and monitoring by trained personnel, distribution of opioid antagonists, distribution and disposal of hypodermic devices, administration of first aid, upon request consultation concerning treatment for substance abuse, referral and treatment.
The bill is seemingly modeled after a bill drafted by Democratic California State Senator Scott Wiener, whose legislation for safe injection sites was surprisingly vetoed by Gavin Newsom last year. At the time of the veto, Newsom stated, “Worsening drug consumption challenges in these areas is not a risk we can take.”
In 2019, a Philadelphia, a non-profit organization named Safehouse announced plans to operate a supervised injection site with the support of the city government. But prior to initiating operations, U.S. Attorney William McSwain of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania brought suit against the nonprofit, claiming that Section 856 of the U.S. Controlled Substances Act prevented operation of such a site. Three judges on the circuit court of appeals agreed with McSwain.
In November 2021, two overdose prevention centers opened in New York, but receive no state or federal funds.
The Health & Human Services Committee will hold a hearing on this bill on Monday, July 20, at 1:30 pm.
As this legislation has a fiscal impact on state funds, The Globe has reached out to Assembly Orentlicher for comment. We will provide his comments when and if received.
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