TRENTON – The Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee today approved legislation sponsored by Senator Barbara Buono to create “Jason’s Law,” which would establish a statewide prescription and over-the-counter drug abuse public awareness campaign.
“There is a widespread misconception that prescription and over-the-counter drugs are inherently safe,” said Senator Buono, D-Middlesex. “But these substances can be just as addictive as street drugs and the possibilities of an overdose are just as great.”
The Senator’s bill, S-2421, is named “Jason’s Law” after Jason Surks, a Rutgers pre-pharmacy student who died as a result of a prescription drug overdose in 2003. Jason ordered the drugs online from a pharmacy in Mexico without a prescription.
Senator Buono noted that Jason’s mother, Linda, in conjunction with the New Jersey Prevention Network (NJPN), has been crucial in bringing the issue of prescription drug abuse to light and in creating Jason’s Law. Linda Surks is the Coalition Coordinator for the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) of Middlesex County. NCADD dedicated and renamed its East Brunswick prevention center in Jason’s memory.
“The Surks’ story reveals the true need for comprehensive public education on the dangers of prescription drugs. By passing Jason’s Law, we will be able to prevent other families from experiencing the same tragedy. Linda’s leadership and dedication have been invaluable in passing this law,” explained Senator Buono.
The bill would establish a prescription and over-the-counter drug abuse public awareness campaign in the Division of Addiction Services (DAS) in the Department of Human Services to promote awareness among the general public of issues relating to prescription and over-the-counter drug abuse.
The campaign would address the increasing number of children in middle and high schools who are abusing prescription drugs, the use of the Internet to obtain controlled dangerous prescription drugs for non-medical and recreational uses, and the great potential for prescription and over-the-counter drug abuse to cause debilitation or death.
“We need to get the full truth out there about prescription drugs,” added Senator Buono. “There is a lot of bad information out there, especially on websites looking to sell these drugs illegally. Jason’s Law will help to combat that misinformation and save lives.”
The bill passed the Committee by a unanimous vote. It now goes before the full Senate for their approval.
Senator Buono also noted that she will be speaking at the 7th Annual NJPN Prevention Conference this Friday at 9:30 a.m. about the State’s efforts to combat substance abuse. The conference will be held at the Ocean Place Resort and Conference Center in Long Branch. For more information about the conference or NJPN’s efforts to combat tobacco, and drug abuse, please visit their website at www.njpn.org