Wednesday, January 19, 2022


The 2021 state Legislative Term has ended with many positive initiatives enacted in to law. Most elected and appointed officials in New Jersey are aware of the extent of the behavioral health problems faced by many of their constituents. The acknowledgement of the failure of the War on Drugs, along with the understanding that the COVID-19 epidemic has worsened people’s recovery from mental health and substance use issues, has driven most decision-makers to seek out more practical and humane ways of responding to the addictions crisis. The following are some of the bills that were signed in to law during the recently ended Legislative Term that are addictions and recovery-related:


·        S.3491 – Permits any person to acquire, furnish or administer to another individual opioid                        antidotes, and allows a pharmacist to dispense an opioid antidote without a prescription

·        S.3491 – Authorizes paramedics to administer buprenorphine

·        A.5595 – Requires the NJ Division of Consumer Affairs and all pharmacies to maintain a prescription        drug retail price list that includes opioid antidotes

·        A.2280 – Prohibits a person from knowingly furnishing, or receiving, remuneration in connection           with the referral of patients to substance use disorder treatment facilities.

·        S.2323 – Mandates that an opioid antidote be prescribed to a patient at the same time as the                    patient is issued a prescription for an opioid drug when certain risk factors are present

·        A.798 – Establishes a Drug Fatality Review Board in each county

·        A.4847 – Authorizes and supports the expansion of needle exchange program in the state

·        S.3493 – Decriminalizes the possession of syringes

·        A.3007 - Requires each public and private college and university to provide students with access to         mental health services, and to establish a hotline to provide information concerning the availability         of those programs. The operators of the hotline shall be trained to provide counseling services                involving substance misuse, personal stress management, and other psychological disorders that            may be likely to adversely affect the well-being of students

·        S.2801 - Mandates that the Police Training Commission contract with a crisis intervention training            center to provide behavioral health instruction to police officers and establish a curriculum specific         to individuals experiencing economic crisis or substance use disorder

·        S.3800 – Mandates insurance carriers to provide health coverage for opioid antidotes without                    requiring prior authorization

·        A.5597 – Allows school districts to administer anonymous, volunteer surveys concerning student            health issues once prior written notification has been provided to parents and legal guardians.                Specifically, the school district would be able to administer a questionnaire concerning the use of            alcohol, tobacco, drugs, and vaping; sexual behavior and attitudes; behaviors that may contribute            to intentional or unintentional injuries or violence; or physical activity and nutrition-related                        behaviors

·        S.2559 – Among other provisions, requires health insurance reimbursement rates for telehealth                consultations, be on a par with those for in-person visits

·        S.2953 – Removes the eligibility ban on applying for General Assistance and Emergency Housing                Assistance for individuals with drug distribution (or intent to distribute) convictions – The measure         further provides reentry services for prisoners leaving county jails


            Notwithstanding meaningful strides taken in enshrining enlightened recovery policies in the law in recent                    times, more remains unfinished. Some of these needed initiatives include:

·        The state’s drug laws should be re-examined and revised

·        Behavioral health training of nursing home staff

·        Continued expungement reform

·        Expanded availability of opioid overdose reversal drugs in various public spaces, i.e. theaters,                    arenas, buses, trains, libraries, homeless shelters, universities, etc.

·        Decriminalize the possession of all drugs

·        Dedicate monies from pharmaceutical settlements toward substance disorder programs


The staff and volunteer Advocates are dedicated to continuing the work of ensuring the addiction policies in the Garden State embrace healing and rejuvenation.    
Ed Martone

Policy Analyst    

Wednesday, November 17, 2021


In years when one, or both, houses of the state Legislature are up for election, NCAARBH conducts a survey of the candidates on issues of addiction and recovery policies. This year 58 candidates responded to the questionnaire, the highest number ever. In an earlier Blog, I analyzed the answers from the candidates who participated. This Blog reviews the responses from the 38 who were elected. Of the 38, 20 are Democrats, while 18 are Republicans. Note: Not every respondent answered every question. Further, of the 38 respondents who were elected, 35 are incumbents. Finally, of the 38, 24 were elected to the Assembly and 14 were elected to the Senate. Of the 38 winning candidates:

·        32 believe substance use disorders are preventable and treatable chronic illnesses

·        32 would support adequate funding of treatment and recovery services

·        23 would support a review of the state’s drug laws with an eye toward reform

        On Decriminalization

·        9 would support the decriminalization of all low-level drug use, possession and sales

·        7 would support the decriminalization of all low-level drug use and possession, but not sales (a                 number indicated a need for an exception for minors)

·        11 do not support the decriminalization of all low-level possession of drugs

·        11 are undecided and would like to learn more

               A sizable majority of respondents would support certain initiatives to help individuals in their recovery,                including:

·        28 endorse continued criminal record expungement reform

·        29 endorse tax credits for employers who hire people in recovery

·        26 believe in enhanced financial aid and program assistance to communities disparately impacted             by the War on Drugs

·        35 would reduce court-ordered fees and fines for persons who successfully complete a treatment or         diversion program

·        38 would support an expanded use of peer recovery services

        A significant majority of questionnaire respondents would support sufficient government funding            to expand the use of naloxone to reverse a drug overdose:

·        27 on public transportation

·        23 in public libraries

·        29 on college and university campuses

·        32 in homeless shelters

          A further majority endorse:

·        33 mandating that every pharmacy maintain a minimum supply of an opioid overdose reversal drug

·        38 authorizing EMTs to dispense naloxone

·        22 requiring a supply of naloxone in other public spaces, e.g. stadiums, arenas, theaters, etc.

 You can view the answers of any of the state legislative candidates to our Election Questionnaire here