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Gov. Cuomo signs opioid lockbox bill into law

New York Attorney General Letitia James says this is a "massive step in our efforts to end the opioid epidemic and provide justice to its victims."

ALBANY, N.Y. — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed new legislation Wednesday to further fund opioid services.

Earlier this week, it was announced that Johnson & Johnson agreed to pay $230 million to New York to settle claims that the company helped fuel the opioid crisis. The company says the settlement is not an admission of wrongdoing. 

Wednesday morning Gov. Cuomo signed the 'opioid lockbox bill' into law. This legislation will require all funds received by New York State, as the result of litigation against opioid manufacturers, to be used to fund addiction treatment providers and services.

New York Attorney General Letitia James tweeted Wednesday that "this is a massive step in our efforts to end the opioid epidemic, and provide justice to its victims."

“Ensuring funds recovered from opioid settlements and litigation go where they’re needed — to fund prevention, education, and treatment programs — is a massive step in our efforts to end the opioid epidemic and provide justice to its victims,” James said in a provided statement. 

“While no amount of money will ever compensate for the thousands who lost their lives or became addicted to opioids across our state, or provide solace to the countless families torn apart by this crisis, this law ensures funds are used to prevent any future devastation. I thank Governor Cuomo, Senator Rivera, and Assemblymember Woerner, as well as the county and local governments, advocates, service providers, and families for working with our office over the last six months to get this law passed.”

2 On Your Side talked with Assemblymember William Conrad Wednesday who said this means hundreds of millions of dollars will go to the communities that need these programs.

"That's the heart of it here is that we created this lockbox legislatively to make sure that those in need get those monies for recovery. That's the most important piece, and I'm very happy to hear that the Governor signed it last night," said Assemblymember William Conrad.

Conrad also told us that this new law impacts potential litigation going forward and lawsuits underway right now. He explained what could have happened with the money if the governor hadn't signed the bill into law.

"It would go in the general fund, and it would be used for anything," Conrad said. "So here, again, you could see the, you know, the advocates, and the local and county governments, and our service providers all advocating to make sure that we have this money set aside to go to the right place here, and fund this prevention education, and to fund the recovery initiatives, you know, to make sure that we can get people back to normal life, and so I see this as a massive step toward recovery and taking on one of the worst epidemics of especially drugs in this area."

Assemblymember Conrad says there's a definite need for these programs in Western New York and having somewhere to go for a recovery program is really important for families. He also told us this would not have been possible without the help of groups like Save the Michaels of the World which helped push for this legislation to help families dealing with addiction.