December 7, 2011
A1088, a measure nearly 20 years in the making, has reached the desk of Gov. Chris Christie. On Monday, lawmakers gave their final approval to the bill, which would allow New Jersey adults to purchase up to 10 syringes without a prescription. If signed by Christie, it would make New Jersey the 49th state to permit over-the-counter needle sales.
"This is a historic moment," said Roseanne Scotti, state director for the Drug Policy Alliance. "This legislation has overwhelming support from the medical and public health community. Gov. Christie now has the opportunity to sign this legislation that will help end AIDS and save lives."
The governor has not stated his position on A1088. Though as a US attorney Christie opposed needle-exchange programs, in his 2009 gubernatorial campaign he indicated he was reconsidering. "The bill will get careful review and consideration," said Christie spokesperson Michael Drewniak.
Assembly member Reed Gusciora (D-Mercer), a co-sponsor, said the measure requires pharmacies to provide information to needle purchasers about safe disposal and drug-treatment programs. "This sensible and controlled approach will enable syringe users to take personal responsibility for both their health and the health of others and hopefully get them on a path to treatment," he added.
Under A1088, anyone who buys a needle and sells it to another person could be charged with a disorderly persons offense, which can carry a fine of up to $1,000 and a maximum of six months in prison.
12.06.2011; Matt Friedman
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