A bill to decriminalize possession of drug paraphernalia for personal use and promote harm reduction was signed by the mayor of DC last week as part of the broader Opioid Overdose Prevention Act, reports Marijuana Moment.
Following Mayor Muriel Bowser's signature of the bill, the legislation was sent for review by Capitol Hill lawmakers, who have unique oversight over the laws that govern DC.
The Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) says the reforms will mitigate drug-related infections, reduce arrests and save lives. In addition to decriminalizing possession of paraphernalia like pipes and syringes, the legislation also promotes the distribution of harm reduction tools.
The District of Columbia is the latest jurisdiction to decriminalize and expand access to harm reduction supplies criminalized under strict paraphernalia laws! @MayorBowser signed it into law this week as a part of omnibus overdose bill B23-0054. This is a huge victory for PWUD.
— Drug Policy Alliance, National Affairs (@DPA_ONA) December 26, 2020
Queen Adesuyi, Policy Manager for the Office of National Affairs at the Drug Policy Alliance, told ABC7 that it was important to get the legislation passed with COVID-19 cases skyrocketing.
"This legislation will 100% save lives," Adesuyi said. "And in fact, not doing this, the status quo would have continued to put people at risk and not save lives. It's so critical and it couldn't have come at a better time."
Adeyusi told ABC7 that harm reduction supplies are essential because shared and unsafe methods for snorting or smoking various drugs can put people at risk for COVID-19, as well as hepatitis C transmission, HIV, and both viral and bacterial infections.
Watch ABC7 reporter's Elliot Henney's full interview with Queen Adesuyi here.