On Friday and Monday, Baltimore Harm Reduction Coalition (BHRC) and Open Society Institute-Baltimore led Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott, members of the Baltimore City Council and Maryland General Assembly, and other city and state public officials on tours of OnPoint overdose prevention centers (OPCs) in New York City. OnPoint operates the first two legally authorized OPCs in the US.
On Friday, Dec. 2nd, Mayor Scott, and City Council members Danielle McCray (District 2), Ryan Dorsey (District 3), and Kristerfer Burnett (District 8) toured OnPoint’s two locations, in East Harlem and Washington Heights, and talked with leadership, staff, and visitors. On Monday, Dec. 5, Delegate Robbyn Lewis (District 46), Delegate Joseline Peña-Melnyk (District 21), and Senator Shelly Hettleman (District 11) visited the same locations.
OPCs—also known as supervised consumption sites, safe drug use sites, and safer injection facilities—prevent overdose death and reduce the health and environmental risks associated with drug use by providing a safe space for people to use pre-obtained drugs under medical supervision rather than in public or in isolation. OPCs have operated around the world for many years and millions of drug users have visited and used drugs in them without a single overdose death. More that 1,200 people died from overdose from January to June of this year in Maryland.
Legislation to create pilot OPCs in Maryland has been proposed six times in recent years and has yet to pass. In 2021, Mayor Scott, State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby, and Baltimore City Health Commissioner Letitia Dzirasa supported the measure, which narrowly failed to get out of committee. In July, 2022, at the opening press conference for BHRC’s mock OPC, Mayor Scott and Health Commissioner Dzirasa again stated their support for OPCs and previous OPC bill sponsor Sen. Shelly Hettleman signaled her intention to propose the bill again during the 2023 legislative session.