State task force releases recommendations on heroin addiction

By Emily De Vito

State task force releases recommendations on heroin addiction

January 26, 2016 Updated Jan 27, 2016 at 8:53 AM EDT

(WBNG Binghamton) In effort to continue the fight against heroin -- the New York State Assembly Minority Task Force has come out with suggestions on how to fight the epidemic.

The state task force released recommendations Monday. Officials say these recommendations signal a step toward combating the epidemic.

"I've struggled with addiction for about eight years," Daniel Rippe, of Binghamton, said. "I have family that's struggling with addiction, you know, brothers and sisters-- even my parents are active heroin addicts. I just want to see something change."

The Republican State Assembly Minority task force held seven forums across the state. After hearing from parents, recovering addicts and experts, the task force has made its recommendations.

Some recommendations include requiring schools to provide drug education beginning in third grade, enacting legislation to allow individuals with addiction problems to be detained on an emergency medical basis in a hospital for 72 hours, and probating insurance companies from establishing blanket "fail first" requirements.

While he report didn't have a specific amount of money for funding the fight -- Assemblyman Clifford Crouch from the 122nd district, who is on the taskforce, said there are ways to find funding.

"I think some of the funding will be there, and we just got to make sure we get it redirected to a priority of heroin abuse," Crouch said (R).

Another recommendations from the task force is a felony "Death-by-Dealer" statute. It would hold dealers criminally responsible for overdose deaths, and the Broome County District Attorney said he thinks this recommendation will help our area.

"We have to go after the drug dealers," Broome County District Attorney Steve Cornwell (R) said. "Hit them hard, and that's it. Let them feel the pain and punishment."

But nonprofit organization "Truth Pharm" disagrees with this recommendation.

"Anything that involves further criminalizing within this epidemic is time wasted," Truth Pharm founder Alexis Pleus said. "We really need our government to look at a very aggressive, proactive approach for this epidemic."

While this may be a step in the right direction, Truth Pharm said there is still more to be done.

"We're working on a letter to the Governor to ask him to enact some emergency measures because we need a response now not three months from now," Pleus said.

Now that the task force has released its recommendations, the next step is for them to share its findings with the Assembly Democrats. Crouch said they will then work on creating legislation based off of these recommendations.

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