No decision yet on supervised injection sites in NYC

May 3, 2019 GMT

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — There’s still no word from state health officials on whether New York City can proceed with plans for supervised injection sites.

A state Department of Health spokesman said Friday that the agency hasn’t decided whether to approve Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio’s one-year pilot plan to open up to four sites where drug users can inject while observed by medical professionals who can intervene in case of overdose.

De Blasio first floated the idea a year ago.

Health department spokesman Jonah Bruno wouldn’t say when a decision will be announced. He noted that the federal prosecutor in Philadelphia has sued to block plans for an injection site there.


“We have been in active dialogue with advocates and the city on the proposal while addressing potential law enforcement concerns and the threat of legal challenges,” Bruno said in a statement emailed to the Associated Press.

Advocates say injection sites have been successful in Canada, Europe and elsewhere, and that when combined with on-site recovery resources, they can not only prevent overdoses but also help users get help. They say the delay in New York is costing lives.

“Overdose prevention centers have a more than three-decade-long track record around the world of saving lives,” said state Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal, D-Manhattan and chair of the Assembly Committee on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse. “New York state must not wait a day longer in piloting this model.”

The mayor of Ithaca, New York, has also sought state permission for an injection site in his city but has not yet received the go-ahead from the state.

Officials in Seattle and San Francisco are also considering supervised injection sites.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo last year said that while the motivation is “laudable,” state-sanctioned supervised injection sites raise complicated legal questions, since they would violate federal drug laws.

A spokesman for de Blasio said Friday that discussions with the state are ongoing.

“This administration is committed to using every proven tool to stop the opioid overdose epidemic in its tracks and connect those who need it to treatment,” said spokeswoman Marcy Miranda.