FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE May 31, 2019
In response to the NYS Senate unanimously (57-0) passing a bill to schedule fentanyl as a schedule I substance in the NYS Penal Law (S1652A) to facilitate the criminal prosecution of individuals for the possession or sale of a fentanyl analogue–and stating that an individual can commit a crime “knowingly” even if they do not have knowledge of the exact chemical structure of the fentanyl analogue, VOCAL-NY and Drug Policy Alliance have released the following statement attributable to Jasmine Budnella, VOCAL-NY Drug Policy Coordinator and Dionna King, Drug Policy Alliance Policy Manager.
“The passage of S1652A proves that the blue wave that put the Senate Democrats in power is useless to the families across the state who have lost their loved ones to a preventable overdose, or to the thousands more who are suffering with a substance use disorder. We have heard for weeks that New York State Senate is suffering from ‘criminal justice fatigue,’–puzzling given that passing legislation, including to repair the harms of the mass incarceration era, is a job that they asked to do. We have been told that our decade-long efforts to pass lifesaving bills are unlikely, even in the midst of the deadliest overdose crisis ever. And yet, the Senate has no trouble unanimously passing a failed drug war bill that helps no one and perpetuates harm and death.
Not only did advocates work to block this Republican-era legacy policy from being included in the NYS budget, we spent time educating the Senate on how scheduling fentanyl will increase incarceration, further criminalize a public health issue, undermine lifesaving policies like the Good Samaritan Law, and will inevitably increase overdose deaths across New York. We’ve waited far too long for the Senate to be Democratic controlled, only to be fighting the same tired and deadly policy proposals that the Senate Republicans gave us for years.
Instead of passing counterproductive and archaic bills, New York State can lead by passing bills that are proven to save lives:
- S2161/A833A (Bailey/Rosenthal): Expand Medication Assisted Treatment to all NYS Prisons and Jails
- S5935/A7246A (Harckham/Rosenthal): Establishes that all FDA approved forms of medication assisted treatment prescribed for alcohol and opioid dependence shall be covered by Medicaid available under the preferred drug program
- S4808/A2904 (Harckham/Quart) Amends the insurance law, in relation to prohibiting certain insurance policies from requiring prior authorization for certain medications used in the treatment of substance use disorders; and to repeal certain provisions of such law relating thereto
- S875/A1634 (Rivera/Gottfried): Decriminalization Syringes and Expand Access to Public Health Tools”