A small nonprofit in Manhattan dedicated to preventing overdoses is drawing the attention of politicians and health officials, the New York Times reports. Manhattan's top federal prosecutor is warning the nonprofit's methods are illegal and is suggesting that his office could crack down. The group’s strategy, known as supervised consumption, is simple, but radical: Let people use illicit drugs at special centers, under the watchful eye of nonprofit workers who can intervene if something goes wrong. The group, OnPoint NYC, said on Tuesday that its two overdose prevention centers have reversed 1,000 overdoses since they opened more than a year and a half ago. The city authorized the centers in 2021. They are the only such sites operating openly in the nation. Research on more than 100 such sites in other countries, where some have operated for decades, has found they reduce public drug use and lower mortality rates.
Damian Williams, the Manhattan U.S. Attorney, issued an apparent warning that came in stark contrast to the more tolerant approach the Biden administration had been signaling toward the centers. “I have repeatedly said that the opioid epidemic is a law enforcement crisis and a public health crisis,” Williams said. “But I am an enforcer, not a policymaker.” Until New York policymakers take action to authorize the supervised consumption sites, he said, they are operating in violation of federal, state and local law. The centers are considered illegal because the fentanyl, crack and other drugs consumed there are controlled substances, and because a federal law known as the “crack house statute” bars individuals from maintaining property where controlled substances are consumed.