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New York: NYC Council Holds Hearing On Bill To Reorient Drug Policy Towards Health

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Legislation Would Create an Office to Coordinate Drug Strategy Between Dozens of Departments

Emphasizes Evidence-based Policy Making to Promote Health and Public Safety and Reduce Negative Impact of Past and Current Policies

As the New York City Council prepared to hold a hearing on legislation to reshape how the city deals with illegal drug use, advocates packed the steps of City Hall in support.

The bill would create an Office of Drug Strategy charged with coordinating policy and programmatic priorities across dozens of city agencies and collaborating with community organizations. While similar approaches exist in scores of Canadian and European cities, the New York City office would be the first of its kind in the U.S.

“I know firsthand why we need an Office of Drug Strategy, dedicated to creating alternatives to our city's failed drug policies," said Shantae Owens, a member of VOCAL New York. "When I was arrested for possessing a small amount of drugs, I was homeless and drug addicted, selling drugs just to support a habit.

"I was offered a prison sentence instead of treatment, which was a waste of my life and our tax dollars," Owens said. "New York City can and should be a national role model for how we can end drug war policies and replace them with policies of justice and equity, and politics of compassion and love."

New York: NYC Council Holds Hearing On Bill To Reorient Drug Policy Toward Health, Safety

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A new New York City drug policy agency would focus as much on health as on policing under a proposal a lawmaker has introduced to shift how the nation's biggest city approaches illegal drug use.

The proposed legislation would create an office to coordinate drug strategy between dozens of city agencies and the community. It emphasizes evidence-based policy making to promote health and public safety and reduce the negative impact of past or current policies.

The drug strategy office would advise city leaders on lowering drug-related deaths and disease along with crime, reports Jennifer Peltz at ABC News. It also would coordinate answers to a problem that sometimes seems to pit one set of government objectives against another, supporters say.

WHAT: Press conference and rally in support of Intro 748, which would create an Office of Drug Strategy, to be immediately followed by a NYC Council hearing on the bill.

WHEN: Tuesday, June 23, 9:00 am EST

WHERE: Steps of New York City Hall

WHO: NYC elected officials and community groups representing public health, drug treatment, mental health, and legal aid providers, and individuals directly affected by current NYC drug policy.

New York City Turns A Corner On Drug Policy: City Council Bill Would Harmonize Strategy

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First of its Kind City Council Bill Would Create a National Model to Harmonize Drug Strategy Between Dozens of Departments and the Community

Bill Emphasizes Research-based Approaches to Promote Public Health and Safety and Reduce Negative Impact of Past and Current Policies

Building on debates that helped shape the last mayoral election, NYC Council Members Corey Johnson, Andrew Cohen, and Vanessa Gibson on Thursday introduced legislation to create an Office of Drug Strategy. Placed in city hall, the new office would be empowered to convene city agencies, outside experts, and communities impacted by drug use to develop a city-wide, health-focused plan for a coordinated approach in addressing issues related to drug use.

“Past and present ineffective drug policy has contributed to tragic and preventable mortality, crime and inequity here in New York City,” said Council Member Corey Johnson, Chair of the Health Committee. “The Office of Drug Strategy will combat these problems by enhancing evidence-based drug education and public health intervention efforts and the availability of medical, psychological and social services to those struggling with drug use.

"Through the coordination of the many agencies and offices that address the numerous facets of illicit and non-medical drug use, we can develop a forward-looking policy to stem overdoses and enhance rehabilitation,” Johnson said.

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