TRENTON – Senator Ronald L. Rice released the following statement on needle exchange legislation, S-494, that passed, with amendments, the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee by a vote of 5-2-1.
“Minorities and women, in particular, are dying every day due to violent crimes committed with guns over drug territories. Heroin of up to 99% purity is on the streets of our cities. The most recent drug problem law enforcement has encountered is the mixing of a substance known as fentanyl with heroin. This mixture has caused a rapid increase in the number of overdoses in our urban communities.
“Those who support the free distribution of needles to minorities, women and others are arguing under the auspices of reducing HIV/AIDS. The truth is that those in favor of needle exchange are actually arguing the case for the destruction of cities that we have worked so hard to rebuild. They are arguing the case for the continued homelessness and joblessness within the minority community and for the failure of our children in schools. Those who want a syringe access program are saying that it’s ok for drug users to continue using drugs and kill themselves because it’s cheaper for the government.
“Unfortunately, there is a major push for syringe access. Big money from the drug legalization lobby is being spent to get a needle exchange program in New Jersey regardless of the contradictions in the research and the negative impact that it will have on the quality of life for those in this State.
“I don’t understand why leaders are insisting on keeping minorities, women and others drug addicts on drugs, and why those in power continue to deny the resources necessary for regional residential treatment facilities, detox beds, education and the various kinds of help that many need.
“In State government, we continue to vote to approve millions of dollars for residential facilities for the mentally ill. Funds are given for treatment facilities and the beds needed to assist the medical needs of our citizens. Millions of dollars are provided for stem cell research with no knowledge of what that research is going to produce.
“It’s very sad that when it comes time to address a very serious healthcare problem affecting the majority of African-Americans, Latinos and women the only help State government is willing to provide is free needles. With more needles on the streets, we are keeping drug users junkies for the rest of their lives, and allowing gang members to continue to fight over drug turf.
“By approving needle exchange, the State will increase the death rate of our citizens under the auspices of reducing the spread of HIV/AIDS. More people will die from overdosing, homicides and suicides. More people will become intravenous heroin addicts, especially the younger generation.
“It’s sad that some elected officials and other community leaders are buying into the movement of legalizing drugs in this country at the expense of our people.
“I will continue to fight the battle to get the resources that are needed to get people off drugs, help them to become employable, and become fathers, mothers, and family members once again. I hear the ‘hue and cry’ of our people. I know of their suffering and I know of their pain.
“As a leader, I must continue to demand the necessary resources needed to help minorities and women become drug free-and I will!”