Opioid Overdose Prevention Act of 2019 Passes: Drug paraphernalia decriminalization bill becomes law in District (ABC 7 - WJLA)
Following the District's deadliest year of overdose fatalities in 2017, the D.C. Council unanimously voted to allow for the distribution of fentanyl test strips for personal use, and then passed legislation to decriminalize the life-saving strips a year later. While the decriminalization of fentanyl test strips was a step in the right direction, the Drug Policy Alliance says they worked tirelessly with HIPS, a DC-based harm-reduction organization, to get DC Council to take bigger steps towards reducing overdose deaths by decriminalizing drug paraphernalia more broadly.
"It's a huge step forward for the health and livelihood of people who use drugs," Adesuyi said.
HIPS was on the ground educating community members about harm reduction through street outreach and a virtually leading a series of community conversations on harm reduction and drug use. Queen Adesuyi, the Policy Manager for the Office of National Affairs and the team at The Drug Policy Alliance worked tirelessly to show how harm reduction impacts public health and saves lives. At the end of December 2020, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser allowed the Opioid Overdose Prevention Act of 2019 (B23-0054) to become law. This bill removes the criminal penalties for possession of drug paraphernalia for personal use. The bill will allow organizations like HIPS to distribute harm reduction supplies such as safer smoking kits, safer snorting kits, and other infectious disease prevention harm reduction materials previously criminalized under DC law. [Read Article]