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May 3 , 2023



Over 300 Harlem Residents Watched GHC's City Council Forum

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On Thursday night well over 300 Harlem residents tuned in to hear Assemblymember Dickens, Candidate Salaam, and Assemblymember Taylor all answer questions posed by The Greater Harlem Coalition members and the Harlem public at large.

The wide ranging conversation was thoughtful, measured, and consistently respectful in tone.  All three candidates had the opportunity to express themselves fully in a series of yes/no, medium, and long format questions.  For an hour and a half Harlem residents had the opportunity to query the candidates on everything from financial literacy to how they would fight for Community Harm Reduction.

Our moderators - Shatic Mitchell, Madlyn Stokely, Shawn Hill, and Syderia Asberry-Chresfield brought a wide range of thoughtful community concerns to the candidates, helping all who attended, understand the approaches each candidate would take if elected


GHC's Candidates' Forum Poll

During April 27th's Candidates' Forum a straw poll at the end of the evening revealed that Assembly Member Inez Dickens was the popular favorite for Harlem's City Council.

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"[Politicians] can make promises, but what we need is legislation"

- Assemblymember Inez Dickens


Citing Drug Treatment Oversaturation in Filing

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The New York Times is reporting on how the 125th Street Business Improvement District filed a lawsuit last week, seeking to stop the state from building a recreational cannabis dispensary on 125th Street, across from the historic Apollo Theater.

The lawsuit challenges the secretive process regulators use to choose dispensary locations - and the failure to consult with communities.  The 125th Street BID says it does not specifically oppose having a dispensary on 125th Street or elsewhere in Harlem, instead, it says that the current location is “irredeemable” because it would add to the crime, congestion and open drug use already plaguing the area.

The lawsuit accused state officials of violating regulations that require dispensaries to be at least 500 feet from schools and community centers. 

Lloyd Williams, the president of the Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce, said local lawmakers and community groups will not support a plan to open a dispensary in Harlemithout the state reducing an “overabundance” of substance abuse services within a two to three block radius that he said were already causing problems on 125th Street.

Mr. Williams pointed out that Harlem has been profoundly impacted by OnPoint and their supervised injection site that opened over local objections in 2021, and he noted that:

 OnPoint and their injection site had contributed to an increase in people openly doing drugs on the street, where they can be seen nodding off or shooting up, creating quality-of-life problems for residents, businesses and churches.



Alberta Canada Will Focus On Addiction Recovery, Not Maintenance

“Addiction is a progressive illness, and there is virtually no addict that makes a change in their life without some measure of intervention,” said Marshall Smith, chief of staff to Alberta Premier Danielle Smith.

One of Canada's western provinces, Alberta, is poised to introduce the Compassionate Intervention Act that would allow the province to operate drug courts outside the criminal justice system.  Police officers would refer people to these courts for addiction intervention and treatment. 

Close relatives or officials (doctors, nurses, child protection officers, and police officers) would be able to petition for a mandatory treatment order.  These quick petitions could be made if it is believed that the addicted individual is a danger to themselves or to others. The judge involved would then be able to order a treatment plan.

Alberta believes that this is the most compassionate way to try to address the addiction crisis.  Officials note that the 'Harm Reduction' approach has not been able to stem the tide of people slowly killing themselves on the street, and Alberta has decided to try a different approach.  

It is important to note that the drug courts proposed by Alberta are not the only part of this new approach.  The province has been investing heavily in treatment centers throughout the province to support the path to recovery and to receive people who are ordered into treatment.  Alberta's premier announced last week, for example, that that another $30 million 75-bed drug recovery facility was to be built in the province.

“For too long, public health policy on addictions has been monopolized on a single-minded approach and that involved in part setting up drug-consumption sites — consumption sites that are at best about managing addiction rather than treating it,” said then Premier Jason Kenney in 2020

Overdose deaths in Alberta are still incredibly high but it’s one of the only places in Canada where overdose fatalities are trending downwards.  And this new approach - drug courts and mandatory treatment - can be seen as in stark contrast to the approach taken by New York's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and OnPoint that have chosen to bet on the curbing drug deaths by offering addicts a safe place to use drugs.

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