Press Statements

VOCAL-NY Applauds Senate Health Committee Passing Drug Checking Services Legislation

April 17, 2024

CONTACT: Mariah McGough, 


ALBANY, N.Y. — Today, the Senate Health Committee passed Senator Fernandez’s drug checking services bill (S4880). In response, VOCAL-NY released the following statement, attributable to Hiawatha Collins, leader with the Users Union and Board Member at VOCAL-NY:

“Unlike the governor – who has refused to lead New York on the overdose crisis– the Senate took the leadership New Yorkers are demanding by moving the drug checking services bill. With 19 New Yorkers dying everyday from preventable overdose, being able to check your drugs safely, and know exactly what’s in them, will save lives. We will keep fighting alongside Senator Fernandez to ensure this lifesaving bill is passed, and look forward to the Assembly following this momentum.”


Since 2020, over 17,480 New Yorkers have died from a preventable overdose. New York broke another record with over 6,427 deaths in 2022 alone. Marginalized  communities — low-income communities, unstably housed, older New Yorkers, and Black and Brown neighborhoods — have disproportionately higher rates of overdose. “Tough-on-crime” policies have created the conditions for a unstable drug supply, leading to an overdose crisis that continues to take more New Yorkers’ lives than car accidents, suicides, and homicides combined. 

Drug checking provides information within the context of an unstable supply to inform people to make positive behavior choices on how to consume their substances – which can save lives. However, drug checking lacks protections for consumers and drug-checking technicians from retribution or involvement with the criminal legal, administrative, or civil systems. This bill provides immunity to all parties involved in drug checking infrastructure.


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