Even though no harm reduction-related bills passed during the just-completed 2016 General Assembly, it was still a good session for harm reduction advocates, says Scott Nolen, director of OSI’s drug addiction treatment program, in a City Paper op-ed.
Del. Daniel Morhaim’s comprehensive package of bills designed to change the way we look at drug addiction—from a law enforcement issue to a public health one—did not pass this session, but Nolen is pleased the General Assembly is willing to consider strategies for addiction treatment beyond traditional measures.
Two of the more controversial bills would have established safe injection facilities (SIFs), where users could inject their own drugs in a safe, clean environment under medical supervision and a pilot poly-morphone-assisted treatment program, targeted at a small number of chronic users who have not responded to other forms of treatment.
Nolen wrote, “While none of Morhaim’s bills passed, it was the first time that several key harm reduction concepts, like treatment on demand and safe injection facilities, were even considered by the General Assembly.”
OSI’s drug addiction treatment program supports numerous harm-reduction initiatives, including the Health Department’s Staying Alive program and Behavioral Health System Baltimore’s dontdie.org public awareness campaign, and naloxone training and distribution for the Baltimore Police Department and the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) program.
Photo courtesy of J.M. Giordano/City Paper