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Benson & Verrelli Measure Establishing the Opioid Recovery and Redemption Fund Clears Assembly Panel

(TRENTON) – The troubling issue of opioid misuse is a national concern in which New Jersey has focused on mitigating incidences of dependency, addiction, and fatal overdose.  According to recent data, 2,896 opioid-related overdose deaths occurred in 2021 in New Jersey alone.

To combat the opioid epidemic and help the people of New Jersey in need of assistance, Assembly Democrats Dan Benson and Anthony Verrelli sponsor legislation to establish the “Opioid Recovery and Remediation Fund” and the “Opioid Recovery and Remediation Fund Advisory Council”.

The bill (A-1488) would establish a dedicated, non-lapsing “Opioid Recovery and Remediation Fund” into which money would be deposited and dedicated to and used only for the purposes of supplementing substance use disorder prevention and treatment programs and services in the State. Money for the fund would be as a result of a settlement agreement entered into with, or litigation undertaken against, opioid manufacturers and distributors related to claims arising from the manufacture, marketing, distribution, or dispensing of opioids.  The measure was approved by the Assembly Human Services Committee on Monday.

Additionally, the bill would establish in the New Jersey Department of Human Services (NJDHS) the “Opioid Recovery and Remediation Fund Advisory Council” which would consist of 13 members.  The purpose of the council would be to provide the NJDHS with recommendations on the allocation of funds as well as any policy modifications necessary to maximize the use of those funds on the State and local levels.

Upon committee approval of the measure Assemblymen Benson (D-Mercer, Middlesex) and Verrelli (D-Hunterdon, Mercer) issued the following joint statement:

“It is imperative that the money we receive from companies held responsible for the opioid epidemic is used to help the people of New Jersey suffering from opioid addiction and dependency.  This bill will fund crucial opioid addiction and treatment, as well as mental health, programs while also ensuring the funds are allocated properly and with transparency.

“By establishing the commission to monitor the ‘Opioid Recovery and Redemption Fund’, the State will be able to more effectively take full advantage of the money received.  It is paramount we stay committed to combatting the opioid crisis and we ensure prevention and treatment programs get the resources they need to help those who are suffering.”