CHICAGO — Rhode Island today became the first state in the nation to enact a law authorizing a two-year pilot program for harm reduction centers to help save lives from drug-related overdose and death. Harm reduction centers, also known as overdose prevention sites or supervised injection facilities, connect people who use drugs to resources and evidence-based harm reduction strategies and programs.

The law will become effective March 1, 2022. The law includes requirements for community-level authorization as well as providing legal protections for employees and staff as well as for use and possession of illicit substances at the harm reduction centers.

“By enacting the nation’s first law in support of a pilot harm reduction center, Rhode Island is taking an important step to save lives from drug-related overdose and death,” said AMA Opioid Task Force Chair Bobby Mukkamala, M.D. “The AMA strongly supports the development and implementation of harm reduction centers in the United States. These facilities are designed, monitored, and evaluated to generate data to inform policymakers on the feasibility, effectiveness, and legal aspects of reducing harms and health care costs related to injection drug use.”

“Rhode Island’s teamwork and trust in evidence based medical decision making and strong public health policy led the nation in tackling COVID-19, and with that same spirit we are expanding our fight against substance use disorders and drug overdose deaths,” said Catherine Cummings, MD, Rhode Island Medical Society President.

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