The Village of Johnson City is preparing now for the possible New York State approval of legal locations where people with substance addiction can legally shoot-up under medical supervision.

Local legislation in the Village now regulates where Supervised Injection Sites for addicts to safely consume illicit recreation drugs can be located.

Village Mayor Martin Meany (R) says the local legislation that was presented for a public hearing September 6 and passed by the board unanimously, in no way condones having legal locations for addicts to get their high. It just controls where those facilities can and cannot be located.

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The Mayor says the new law prohibits Supervised Injection Sites, Heroin Safe Zones, Supervised Consumption Centers or Overdose Prevention Centers to be located in Johnson City's "I-District" in the Village Center where the village is utilizing New York State grant funds for economic and business development.  That area includes rapidly expanding employment and education opportunities like the UHS Wilson Medical Center campus and the Binghamton University health care developments including the School of Pharmacy and nursing school.

The new law also prohibits the supervised use sites from locating within 250 feet of any residential building or within 500 feet of any school, park, playground, church or amusement arcade.

(Photo: Bob Joseph/WNBF News)
(Photo: Bob Joseph/WNBF News)

The Mayor says that does not rule out the entire village and, should the state pass legalizing Supervised Injection Sites, which are currently illegal, there are some locations where the centers could look to locate.  The sites would be subject to local, state and federal regulations and codes.

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Meany says the Village is being proactive as New York State Senate Bill S603 and Assembly bill A8224 sit in committee.  Those proposals would allow addicts to seek a safer location to use with professionals on hand to step in with overdose reversal materials, clean syringes and other mechanisms to prevent accidental overdose deaths.  In addition to accommodating those using injectable narcotics, the sites are also available as a safety net for people consuming or ingesting illicit recreational drugs.

Meany says there have been recent concerns in Johnson City with the discovery of used needles discarded on the ground and people using illicit drugs in public areas like parks and the Village gazebo.

It has yet to be determined if having designated safe locations for users will reduce those dangerous incidents of discarded needles and drug paraphernalia or encounters with individuals under the influence of substances as the supervised sites still are not legal. But advocates laud the idea as a good way to prevent some of the increasing numbers of overdoses and overdose deaths.

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