The New Mexico governor's new public health order suspended open and concealed firearms in Albuquerque. The executive action by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham does a number of other things, Source NM reports. One of the two executive orders that provide the rationale for public health actions is entirely focused on what the governor calls “a growing and alarming trend of drug abuse.” She wrote that drug use has resulted in a strain on health care resources, increased crime rates, homelessness, and “disrupted family structures.” The executive order on drugs cites data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showing there were 1,501 fatal overdoses reported in New Mexico in 2021, the fifth-highest overdose rate in the U.S. Lujan Grisham attributed a surge in fatal overdoses to the accessibility of synthetic opioids like fentanyl. “It is essential to marshal all available resources to mitigate the harms caused by drug abuse and to provide support and treatment options for individuals and families affected by this epidemic,” Lujan Grisham wrote. The order does not mention any support or treatment for drug users.
On Monday, the New Mexico chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union raised concerns that Lujan Grisham’s use of emergency powers could lead to over-policing and senseless incarceration. The ACLU's Lalita Moskowitz said Lujan Grisham’s solution to substance use disorder and gun violence “is to pour more resources into law enforcement.” Moskowitz said initiatives that prioritize treatment and improve access to services to facilitate recovery are “far more effective than criminalization or incarceration.” The public health order also directs the state health and environmental departments to test sewer systems at all public schools for drugs, specifically fentanyl. Moskowitz said the fentanyl crisis is severe, but the ACLU opposes “any actions that risk further criminalizing our youth or individuals struggling with addiction.” The order directs the New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department to immediately suspend the Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiative and to “evaluate juvenile probation protocols.” The program helps children avoid juvenile prison, Moskowitz said, and the ACLU is concerned about the governor’s suspending it. “We know that incarceration during childhood increases the likelihood that someone will end up in the adult criminal system,” Moskowitz said. “Ending a program that helps young people find a different path is counterproductive to public safety.”