ALBANY – A package of bills intended to address a growing addiction and crime problem in New York related to heroin and opioid addiction was approved Monday by the State Senate, though the fate of the measures are uncertain in the Assembly.
The 23 bills include prevention, treatment and law enforcement, such as requiring continuing education programs for physicians on addiction screening and limits on number of days painkillers can be prescribed except for certain conditions, such as cancer.
But critics in the Senate of some of the law enforcement measures provided good insight, Assembly Democratic sources said, to the prospects of how many of the criminal justice bills will be received in the Assembly before the 2014 session ends next week.
Assembly sources said deals are likely on some of the education and prevention efforts, but not on Senate bills that critics say revive old Rockefeller drug-era kinds of penalties for drug addicts.
The legislative package came out of the work of a Senate working group on what law enforcement and treatment groups say has been an increasing problem across the state with addiction to heroin and opioids, especially by teenagers who, in the case of heroin, can find the drug easily available and for a cheap price.
Besides stiffer drug-related penalties and more money for local law enforcement efforts, the Senate package includes letting schools be covered by good Samaritan laws in administering naloxone to treat opioid overdoses by students and limiting to a 10-day supply Schedule II and III prescription drugs to help prevent diversion of the drug to addicts, except for treatment of cancer, chronic pain or palliative care.
Also approved were measures to bolster public awareness campaigns on heroin and prescription opioid drugs via social media and in junior high and high school classrooms.