Governor Signs Law Creating Drug Injection Site Program

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PROVIDENCE, RI (AP) – The governor of Rhode Island has signed a bill authorizing the opening of so-called harm reduction centers where people dealing with addiction can use heroin and other illegal drugs under the supervision of medical professionals.

The signing on Wednesday by Democratic Chief Executive Daniel McKee makes Rhode Island the first to enact such a statewide measure to fight the opioid epidemic.

The American Medical Association on Thursday welcomed the move, which comes after there were 384 overdose deaths in Rhode Island last year.

“By enacting the nation’s first law to support a harm reduction pilot center, Rhode Island is taking an important step to save lives from drug-related overdose and death,” said Dr. Bobby Mukkamala, a Michigan physician who presides over the organization’s opioid mission. power.

Canada and other countries have long operated damage control sites, also known as safe injection sites or controlled injection sites, but there are none in the US as they remain illegal under federal law.

New York, Philadelphia and the Boston suburb of Somerville are among the US cities that have attempted to open the centers in recent years. Massachusetts lawmakers are also weighing a bill to create a 10-year pilot program with at least two locations.

The Rhode Island law, which goes into effect March 1, creates a two-year pilot program that allows the centers to open with local approval.

Proponents say harm reduction sites have proven effective in preventing fatal overdoses and connecting people to substance abuse treatment, recovery support and other health services.

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