In years when one, or both, houses of the state Legislature are up for election, NCADD-NJ conducts a survey of the candidates on issues of addictions policies. This year, all eighty seats are up in the NJ Assembly and the candidates were mailed the questionnaire shortly after Labor Day. It is intended to gauge general policy inclinations rather than pinpoint support or opposition for specific legislative proposals. It also serves as an introduction for some as to the concerns of the addictions community.
NCADD-NJ neither endorses candidates for office nor contributes donations to political campaigns. A candidate’s response is scanned and posted on our website. The remarks are not critiqued nor given a rating. It is hoped that all eligible voters will exercise that constitutional right in November. The 2019 NJ Assembly Addiction Prevention, Treatment and Recovery Survey is designed to assist voters in comparing candidates’ positions on alcohol and drug dependence-related public policies.
Forty-one candidates answered the questionnaire and the attitude change and approach expressed was dramatic and encouraging. All acknowledged addictive behavior as a disorder requiring a public health response. This represents a shift from a few years ago when most viewed it as a character flaw that had to be punished. A good deal of the credit for this more refined perspective is attributable to the sophisticated and selfless testimony of people struggling with addictions and their families who have bravely articulated their challenges in securing adequate services in order to attain and maintain long-term recovery.
* All but two respondents indicated support for sufficient funding for treatment and recovery programs. This is an important commitment, as we need the resources of the state to ensure a substantive engagement with the crisis.
* All but two of the candidates endorsed the voluntary consent to be transported to a detox or treatment program for someone who had been revived from a drug overdose. The identical number supported giving that person a medication to alleviate the ensuing withdrawal symptoms after the administration of an opioid overdose reversal drug, such as naloxone (brand name – Narcan).
* Thirty of the forty-one respondents agreed that more public spaces, such as colleges, libraries, sports arenas, etc. should be mandated to stock naloxone and train certain staff on its use.
* All respondents support recovery community centers, however, seven believe they should exist privately, without public funding. A further six see these centers as a good idea – but not in their home county.
* Each of the candidates suggested an endorsement of enhancing current drug, alcohol and mental health programs in jails and prisons; expanding access to criminal record expungement relief for individuals who can demonstrate long-term recovery; and increasing alternatives to incarceration for non-violent drug offenders. Meanwhile, three suggested toughening criminal penalties in tandem with these initiatives would also work.
* On the question of recreational use of small amounts of marijuana by adults, of the forty-one candidates participating in the survey:
- Five support legalization and regulation
- Fifteen support decriminalization
- Eight would support either legalization or decriminalization
- Six would prefer keeping the present legal prohibition in place
- Five would prefer keeping the present legal prohibition in place, while making changes to the existing law
- Two did not respond to this particular question
To read the questionnaire responses from the participating candidates, click here