This week, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed a legislative measure to help reduce opioid abuse throughout the state.
“I’m proud of what we’ve done in New Jersey and proud of the work that we continue to do together to help people reclaim their lives. But we cannot become complacent,” said Governor Christie stated in a news release. “Today, we are taking further action to keep our fight against drug abuse and addiction going strong. We’re doing this by continuing successful programs like Project Medicine Drop to get unused prescriptions out of the medicine cabinet and into drop-off bins as well as fortifying our coordinated efforts against the scourge of opioid abuse in an effort to save more lives.”
The new bill, A-2859, will help advance the previously existing Project Medicine Drop program that was implemented by the Department of Law & Public Safety’s (L&PS) Division of Consumer Affairs. Project Medicine Drop ensures the safe and secure disposal of unneeded medications via “prescription drug drop boxes.” These boxes are located at law enforcement agencies usually comprised of sheriff’s offices, police departments, and State Police barracks throughout New Jersey. Today, there are 126 Project Medicine Drop locations in total, 50 of which include mobile boxes for off-site collection events. Since the start of the Project in November of 2011, New Jersey residents have dropped off nearly 53,924 pounds of unused prescription drugs.
A-2859 provides the Department of Law & Public Safety with greater control of funding in order to promote future expansion of the Project Medicine Drop program. It also requires that L&PS post an updated list of all secure prescription medicine drop-off locations on the Department’s website.
Governor Christie also signed S-2372, which gives the Attorney General the ability to coordinate statewide law enforcement efforts against opioid abuse in the Garden State.
“From our perspective, we couldn’t be more thrilled about Governor Christie’s work,” said Lesley Gabel, Project Director of CADCA-member coalition SAFE Communities Coalition of Hunterdon and Somerset, New Jersey. “Passing this bill will open more avenues and resources to stop prescription drug abuse.”
Gabel emphasized how Gov. Christie’s legislative action is in alignment with many programs SAFE has already implemented, such as setting up drop off boxes for prescription medication. Gabel stressed that SAFE was responsible for setting up the first permanent drop off box in New Jersey. This past Saturday, April 25, SAFE led the “Spring Clean,” an event for people to safely dispose of unused or expired prescription drugs.
SAFE works with the local Sherrif’s Department, churches and other community groups to disseminate information on prescription drug abuse. Two years ago, the coalition produced the documentary “Pills to Heroin” as a teaching aid. Now marked with the Department of Education stamp-of-approval, “Pills to Heroin” is used to bring awareness to youth about the high occurrences of prescription misuse ultimately leading to heroin abuse.
For more information about Governor Christie’s legislative measure, click here.