Bill to Reduce Overdose Headed to House Floor for Vote

HB 123 Directs DOH to Set Guidelines for Municipalities That Want to Establish ‘Safe Injection’ Sites

The Judiciary Committee on Wednesday passed HB 123, Rep. Debbie Armstrong’s bill to give cities and counties the option to set up innovative overdose prevention programs under state guidelines, and the bill is now headed to the full House of Representatives for a vote.

“New Mexico’s rate of death by drug overdose is heartbreaking and unacceptable,” Armstrong said. “Overdose prevention programs are a proven, compassionate way to save lives and fight addiction. Drug overdose is a public health crisis and we need innovative policies to help individuals, families and communities recover from addiction.”

HB 123, which passed the committee 8-3, treats drug use as public health issue rather than a criminal issue. As such, the bill directs the Department of Health to establish guidelines for cities and counties around the state to set up so-called “safe-injection” sites where people struggling with addiction can go to safely administer their drugs and get access to social services to help them overcome addiction. Municipalities would not be required to set up such programs, rather they would have the ability to proactively establish such an overdose-prevention program if they choose.

“At these safe sites, local communities can prevent overdose and stop the spread of disease through dirty needles,” Armstrong said. “They can also help people access treatment, food assistance and other programs. These safe spaces can be the gateway to recovery where addiction is treated as a public health issue instead of being criminalized.”

After HB 123 becomes law, New Mexico would be the first state to allow for the creation of these innovative overdose prevention programs. However, more than 100 such programs already exist in 10 countries around the world. Data collected from those programs show positive outcomes.

“These programs work,” Armstrong said. “They prevent overdoses, keep dirty needles out of public spaces, keep people out of jail and get people the help they need. New Mexicans deserve access to proven strategies that can save lives and rebuild communities devastated by addiction, one person at a time.”

The National Association of Social Workers New Mexico Chapter, Drug Policy Alliance New Mexico, Bold Futures and the New Mexico Criminal Defense Lawyers Association support the bill.

HB 123 will be listed on the House floor calendar in coming days.

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About Rep. Armstrong: Debbie, Chair of the House Health and Human Services Committee, is a long-time health care advocate serving her second term in the New Mexico House of Representatives. Having started her career as a physical therapist, she has worked extensively as a health care administrator, working 10 years with Presbyterian Medical Services in Santa Fe. Prior to serving as Secretary of New Mexico’s Aging and Long-Terms Services Department, she oversaw the department’s Consumer and Elder Rights Division. Debbie is the mother of three adult children and became a grandmother last year. She lives in Albuquerque’s North Valley.  Follow her on Twitter @NMRepArmstrong and on Facebook, and sign up for email and text updates.

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commented 2021-02-18 05:34:41 -0700 · Flag
As a recovering human being formerly an addict, these issues have impacted my family, friends, and self so tremendously that words cannot convey my sentiments. This news is so tremendously powerful that I nearly cried when I read it; which is odd considering the hardened tough skinned type of person I normally can be. Thank you Mrs. Armstrong and my name is Brian, a person in recovery and blessed to be a resident of this wonderful state!
published this page in Latest News 2021-02-17 16:36:34 -0700

Paid for by Debbie Armstrong for New Mexico, Jill Riester, Treasurer

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