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Senator Jim Whelan, D-Atlantic



 TRENTON The Assembly today approved legislation sponsored by Senator Jim Whelan and Senate Republican Leader Tom Kean to assist the public in dispensing of unused or expired prescription medications.

The bill, S-2369, would codify in state statute and expand the state’s “Project Medicine Drop” program which provides for secure collection and safe disposal of unused and expired prescription drugs and household medications. It would require the director of the Division of Consumer Affairs to maintain at each participating law enforcement agency a secure prescription medicine drop-off receptacle in which unused or expired prescription drugs and other common household medications may be anonymously surrendered by members of the public seven days a week, 365 days a year. Within the limits of funds made available for the program, it would also require the director to supply, install and maintain a secure medicine receptacle at each law enforcement agency that agrees to participate and meets program requirements. The bill would require the Division of Consumer Affairs to list on their website statewide medicine drop receptacle locations.

“Unused prescription medications that are left in the home too often end up in the hands of young people looking for a high,” said Senator Whelan, D-Atlantic. “By expanding this program and adding drop-off locations in our communities, we will better ensure that parents remove these addictive substances from their households and get them out of the reach of children they could potentially harm.”

The bill is part of a bipartisan 21 bill package to provide education, prevention and treatment in order to address the state’s growing opiate addiction problem, which has seen an explosion of abuse and deaths throughout the state over the past few years. According to the Attorney General’s office there has been a 160 percent increase in heroin-related deaths from 2010 to 2013.

“The expansion of anonymous drug drops to any law enforcement agency in the state can prevent drug abuse, addiction and serious health effects, especially among teenagers,” said Senator Kean, R-Union, Morris, Somerset. “We must do everything possible to raise prevention awareness and limit the chances that people, especially our most vulnerable youths, are exposed to or have easy access to dangerous substances.”

The bill was approved by the Senate earlier this month with a vote of 35-0. With the Assembly’s approval, it now heads to the Governor’s desk.