The first government-approved safe injection site in North America opened in Vancouver in 2003, allowing drug users to inject heroin under the supervision of trained medical personnel. While none of the sites exist in the United States, New Jersey is one of several states and cities, including New York and Philadelphia, to consider them.
In a recent interview with Chief Political Correspondent Michael Aron, Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle discussed her bill to create a year-long pilot program to set up four safe injection sites around the state.
The Bergen County Democrat says on average, eight people die every day from overdoses in New Jersey. She wants to provide resources and counseling to save lives.
“Clean syringes, medical people on staff. If there is an overdose they would have the Narcan available,” said Vainieri Huttle. “Out of all the 127 sites they have around the world, there hasn’t been one fatality from an overdose because they get to that person in time.”
The assemblywoman’s bill has yet to have a hearing in the Assembly Health Committee.
Vainieri Huttle admitted that this line of thinking may be considered “radical,” but stressed the importance of taking action to reduce the state’s number of drug overdose deaths, which exceeded 3,000 last year.