February 23, 2011
By a 28-12 vote, the New Jersey Senate on Thursday approved a measure that would allow pharmacies to sell up to 10 syringes without a prescription. Adults with a prescription could purchase more than 10 syringes. The bill, S 958, now heads to the Assembly for consideration.
Public health and drug reform advocates say such legislation can help slow the spread of HIV. According to Roseanne Scotti, director of the Drug Policy Alliance of New Jersey, at least 40 percent of the 74,000 HIV/AIDS cases reported in the state are linked to injection drug use. "This legislation will cost the state nothing and will save lives and taxpayer dollars," said Scotti.
"New Jersey is one of only two states in the entire nation where the sale of clean needles and sterile syringes is restricted under law," said S 958's co-sponsor, Sen. Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen). "We have to look at this issue with an open mind, absent moral judgment, and recognize that what drug addicts need most in New Jersey is access to clean, safe needles and treatment to help beat their addiction."
Under the measure, pharmacies must supply syringe purchasers with English- and Spanish-language information on proper disposal of used needles as well as contact information for addiction treatment services.
02.18.2011; Susan K. Livio
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