420 with CNW — Rhode Island Senate Passes Legislation Creating Safe Sites for Illicit Drug Users

March 5, 2021 16:25:59

Opioids initially gained popularity in the 1990s as doctors started prescribing prescription opioids to patients. Over the years, there has been a sharp increase in overdose-related deaths across the globe, from both prescribed and illicit drugs. To combat the growing opioid crisis, Australia, Canada, and some European countries established safe consumption sites (“SCS”) to help prevent overdose deaths and to provide substance-use disorder treatment to individuals.

The United States, however, doesn’t have a single safe consumption site, despite losing over 750,000 people from 1999–2018 to drug overdoses. However, the country may see its first-ever SCS if either of two bills in Rhode Island’s General Assembly passes. Initially introduced back in 2019, bills H 5245 and S 0016 would approve the creation of safe consumption sites in the state. According to Substance Use Policy, Education, and Recovery PAC co-chair Haley McKee, the bills have had strong support after being reintroduced to the General Assembly.

The state Senate-approved bill S 0016 would institute a 10-person advisory committee that would advise the director of the Rhode Island Department of Health on how to regulate SCS. The committee should include at least three people who have experience with controlled substances. This will include one individual who has been jailed or is currently receiving treatment for substance -use disorder, one who is currently recovering from a substance-use disorder and is working in overdose prevention or recovery, and a third who suffered a drug overdose in the past or has a family member who did.

On the other hand, bill H 5245 is still being reviewed by the House Committee on Health and Human Services. However, it is still unclear whether the committee will vote on the bill and whether it will have a floor vote. If the House does pass bill H 5245 and Governor Gina Raimondo signs it into law, Rhode Island will become the first state in the country to allow safe consumption sites, or as lawmakers call them, harm reduction centers.

These facilities would provide disease prevention services, health screening and recovery assistance for people who have consumed preacquired drugs on-site. The Senate version of the bill would also provide liability protection for managers, property owners, employees, participants, volunteers and any public service employees working in the harm reduction centers. With the more liberal Democrat Joseph Shekarchi as Speaker of the Rhode Island House of Representatives, McKee is cautiously optimistic that the legislation will pass.

While cannabis for recreational adult use was only decriminalized in Rhode Island, the substance is fully legal in Michigan, among other states. This legalization has allowed lots of companies to thrive. For example, Gage Growth Corp. (d.b.a. Gage Cannabis) is a new entrant on the Michigan cannabis market, but it is already on course to open a retail outlet within an hour’s drive from every state resident.

NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to Gage Cannabis Co. are available in the company’s newsroom at https://cnw.fm/GAGE

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