Creating Safe Injection Sites to Control the Opioid Crisis
Steve Adubato sits down with Asw. Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D) – NJ, Assembly Deputy Speaker, to examine the opioid crisis and how creating safe injection sites could help control the drug epidemic.
"We're pleased to welcome Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Assembly Deputy Speaker Good to see you. Thank you Steve. Always nice to be here. We talk about so many important things. But I want to get right to an issue that doesn't get talked about. Government-sanctioned safe injection sites for people who have drug issues? Yeah. And what they actually are, are overdose prevention centers. You know, as you know, we have an opioid crisis in this country. And in New Jersey, eight people die a day on overdosing. And most of these are young kids. They die in the shadows. They die in the alleyways. This center, or these centers, are medically supervised. And if you think about it, and you remember back in the 90s during the AIDS crisis, the clean needle exchange was a radical idea. Correct? That's right. And it has been working. These overdose prevention centers are working around the country. They're working in Canada. They have... Around the country? Well, I should say around the world. Yeah. Because... Canada. England. Sweden. Do we have one in the United States? We do not. Not a single one? Not a single one. They have tried in Philadelphia. They have tried in Boston. They have tried in New York City. But... What has stopped it? But last month, we had some good news. There was a... with the judge's ruling? Right. The judge's ruling said it did not violate substance control. The Substance Controlled Act. So therefore, that's a step in the right direction. Because I think the naysayers were like, "well, they're coming in and they're doing drugs." Well guess what? They're doing drugs anyway. And if we can prevent one death, if we can prevent an overdose death, then you know what? We're helping. And we have done so many things in New Jersey. I mean we had the Opioid Prevention Act, which now allows Good Samaritans to call and not have any fear. Right. We have now new warning labels on painkillers and opioid drugs, that it can be addictive and you can suffer an overdose. We're making changes? We are. Small steps. But this one is not...? This is radical. But this has been around...? This idea is not new. You are advocating it. Are you getting significant opposition from your colleagues in the State Legislature? Well this is the good news. It's bipartisan. I have Republican sponsors on the Assembly side, and of course, we have... I don't know if we have Republican sponsors on the Senate side yet, but let's face it. The opioid crisis touches everyone. It transcends politics. I don't care if... That's right. ...you're a Democrat or Republican. Urban, suburban, rural? We are in a crisis, and we are trying to do more. The former Commissioner of..."