Legislative Advocacy

BHRC contributes to local, state, and national advocacy efforts that align with our vision and values.


BHRC Public Policy Platform

What is Harm Reduction Public Policy?

Harm reduction public policy seeks to formalize these practices through the legislative process while expanding public discourse around effective, though sometimes controversial, solutions. Current examples of harm reduction policy discussions revolve around decriminalization or legalization of drug use and sex work, criminal sentencing reforms, “housing first” policies, Good Samaritan laws and overdose response.

What We Do

Baltimore Harm Reduction Coalition (BHRC) urges Maryland decision makers to incorporate harm reduction principles in the designing and implementing of public policy. Through expert analysis and research, BHRC assists in drafting and improving legislation in order to translate harm reduction principles into effective practice. BHRC also engages stakeholders statewide to move harm reduction public policy forward.

What We Stand For

BHRC works to eliminate the existing disparities in the provision of health care and basic human services for people engaged in behaviors historically stigmatized by society such as drug use, sex work, and homelessness. BHRC seeks to reduce these stigmas by implementing evidence-based policies, encouraging self-determination, and including people with lived experience in policy discussions. Harm reduction is a multifaceted integration of public health, social justice, and individual choices that maximizes individual and community health and well being while avoiding infringement of personal freedom.

What We Have Accomplished

Since the inception of the BHRC Policy Team in 2013, we have educated and advocated on numerous harm reduction policy issues including:

  • Expanding syringe access across Maryland by assisting in drafting Delegate Lam’s 2015 syringe access expansion legislation
  • Passing both the first (2013) and the second Good Samaritan overdose immunity laws in Maryland (2015)
  • Legislation that would authorize establishment of legally sanctioned safe consumption spaces statewide
  • Work with the BRIDGES coalition for safe consumption spaces as a community approach to creating grassroots demand for legislation
  • Creating a state-authorized overdose prevention and naloxone distribution program in 2013
  • Increasing naloxone access through a 2015 change in law
  • Ending the federal ban on syringe exchange funding
  • Increasing services for Hepatitis infected individuals, including creating equitable drug cost and access opportunities