TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Joe Vitale that would expand exemptions from criminal drug paraphernalia laws to exempt additional harm reduction supplies, including clean syringes and needles, and thus make those supplies more readily available was released from the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee.
The bill would also require pharmacies to offer the option to return used needles and syringes to the pharmacy for safe disposal.
“Harm reduction supplies have long proven effective in reducing overdoses and overdose deaths without increasing drug abuse,” said Committee Chair Vitale (D-Middlesex). “Meanwhile, harm reduction programs have been successful in slowing the transmission of HIV and providing a bridge to substance use disorder treatment and other services.”
New Jersey enacted the “Bloodborne Disease Harm Reduction Act” in 2006 to allow for the establishment of harm reduction programs. New Jersey now has seven such programs throughout the State.
These programs offer clean needles, resources for critical services such as HIV care and treatment, screening for other sexually transmitted diseases, hepatitis C testing and treatment, hepatitis A and B vaccinations, and other medical, social, and mental health services.
The bill, S-3957, was moved out of committee by a vote of 7-1.