On Wednesday, public health, recovery, and racial justice organizations sent a letter to the Senate Budget Committee, along with legislative leadership and Governor Murphy, urging them to oppose Senate Bill 3325, which proposes harsh new penalties for fentanyl. The bill will be heard by the Senate Budget Committee at its hearing today at 1pm.
“The increased penalties in these bills will exacerbate the overdose crisis, do nothing to reduce drug supply or demand, and only lead to over-policing and enforcement, which undermines the efforts of those on the front lines of preventing overdose deaths,” the letter states.
The letter was signed by over 40 organizations, including: New Jersey Policy Perspective, ACLU of New Jersey, New Jersey Addiction Professionals Association, New Jersey Public Health Association, New Jersey Coalition for Addiction Recovery Support, Latino Action Network Foundation, Salvation and Social Justice, Mainstreet Recovery, Newark Community Street Team, Black Lives Matter Paterson, Make The Road New Jersey, New Jersey Immigrant Justice Alliance, NAACP New Jersey State Conference, New Jersey Organizing Project, Woodbridge Addiction Services, Wind of the Spirit, Fair Share Housing Center, Center for Family Services, Northern New Jersey MAT Center of Excellence, and New Jersey Harm Reduction Coalition.
“While well-intentioned, these bills traffic in the deadly myth that overdose deaths can be prevented with more punishment and harsher penalties. In fact, we have a robust body of evidence that harsher penalties increaseoverdose deaths and decrease people’s opportunities to find recovery that works for them,” the letter continues. “We have together borne witness to decades of a catastrophic drug war that targets Black and Hispanic/Latinx communities while not achieving any of its stated goals of reducing the harms associated with drug use.”
Over 200 individuals including people who use drugs, people in recovery, family members, and treatment providers also expressed their opposition in the letter.
“As tempting as it may be to try to get fentanyl out of the drug supply through increased penalties, the courageous action of true leadership will be letting the facts guide policy and saving lives by rejecting these misguided proposals. Instead of advancing failed War on Drugs policies, we ask that you dedicate your leadership to expanding a public health approach to drug use,” the letter concludes.