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Advocates rally for safe injection sites in NY

Posted at 7:36 PM, Jul 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-30 19:36:45-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Advocates for safe injection sites met in Niagara Square Friday to send a message to Governor Andrew Cuomo.

“Declare a State of Emergency for New York State and create pilot programs for overdose prevention centers,” said Ryan Thoresen Carson, the Executive Director of No OD NY.

They want safe injection sites in New York, places where drug users can go to safely and cleanly use drugs. The sites they say also provide support and education for those who use drugs and can save lives.

“There is a massive massive public benefit— it doesn’t just mean people are going to start using drugs because there’s a place for it,” he said.

The advocates point to a significant rise in overdose deaths across the country. According to Evergreen Health fatal overdoses in the United States increased 30% over the last year. Fatal overdose deaths in New York State rose in 37%.

We received numbers from the Erie County Department of Health. Overdose deaths in Erie County have increased each year since 2016, then there was a dramatic increase in 2020 with 245 opioid related deaths.

So far this year, there have been 86 confirmed deaths in Erie County and 78 cases are pending.

We reached out to the Governor’s Office for a comment on safe injection sites.

“We continue to explore all options to reduce opioid overdose deaths and combat problem drug use in New York State. While we fully support efforts to reduce the harms caused by the opioid epidemic and acknowledge the substantial body of research showing the efficacy of supervised injection facilities in preventing fatal overdose, we are waiting for legal clarity from the U.S. Department of Justice before we can consider opening similar facilities here.”

There are no safe injection sites in the United States to date.