WASHINGTON, D.C. (WDVM) — District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser just passed a landmark bill that will decriminalize drug paraphernalia.

The “Opioid Overdose Prevention Act of 2019” will now become a law after receiving a unanimous vote through the council.

This law will decriminalize possession of drug paraphernalia and will allow community-based organizations to distribute harm reduction supplies that were previously criminalized under past D.C. Paraphernalia laws.

Queen Adesuyi is the policy manager for the Office of National Affairs at the Drug Policy Alliance. She explained that her organization has been fighting for years to decriminalize the possession of drug paraphernalia and other drug-related kits for years.

She stated that this new law is a step in the right direction towards improving how drug use is handled and addressed in “the public health realm.”

“So this tangibly will one: save lives and two: expand supplies to allow for safer smoking kits, safer snorting kits; supplies that will address crack cocaine use and make those behaviors safer.”

She explained that this new bill will create avenues for safer drug use like needle exchange outlets, fentanyl testing kits, etc. which address the restricting laws D.C. previously had surrounding multiple modes of drug use.

Aduyesi describes drug paraphernalia is defined as any material used take or package drugs. She also explained that the laws in the District often stood in the way of ending the preventable spread of infectious diseases and overdose deaths. She stated that it is safer for programs and organisations to allow access to clean and sterile methods for drugs rather than turning to used materials that harbour bacteria or disease.

She also emphasised that the COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated the drug crisis in the District. However, it also shed much needed light on the matter as well.