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Rice Fights Needles Exchange On Senate Floor

Both Houses are Expected to Approve the Syringe Access Measure Today

TRENTON – Senator Ronald L. Rice released the following statement today regarding the expected final Legislative approval of a bill to begin needle exchange programs in New Jersey.

Senator Rice said he sent a packet of information to his colleagues in the Legislature in hopes to persuade the members to vote against needle exchange. The information includes the OLS findings which disprove many of statistics that pro-syringe access activists have been spreading.

“If you read through the packet of information that is attached you will see that my arguments for blocking needle exchange are valid. I ask that all the members of the media take the time to see the truth about needle exchange.

“I’ve been gearing up for the day that a needle exchange measure would come to the Senate floor. It’s unfortunate that the public, the media, and even some Legislators are still being supplied with misinformation from those who want to legalize drugs, and see more needles all over our streets.

“Some Legislators are willing to vote for the bill because of the $10 million appropriation for residential treatment facilities. Today I proposed an amendment that would take out the section allowing for six municipalities to set up syringe exchange. The amendment allows for those on drugs to get the help they need without tempting them with free needles.

“Due to self reporting by pro-needle organizations, all the facts are not being presented. OLS has proven that every State does NOT have a legal needle exchange program. It is irresponsible and incorrect to report that they do.

“There is a direct link between gangs, drugs, guns and needles. It’s important that everyone understand that in order to stop violent crime we need to stop drug use. Supplying drug users with the tools to get high will only prolong their dependency on drugs and destroy the quality of life for themselves, their families and their communities.

“It’s proven that treatment and education are working. We need to focus our energy on getting residential treatment facilities. We need to supply more detox beds, and support programs– not more needles. We need to give those on drugs a hand at regaining control over their addictions– not a free needle to make it easier for them to abuse drugs. I’d like to see the campaign to educate the public about AIDS, that was promised last year, get started immediately.

“We are losing people to AIDS every day, but we are also losing just as many people or more to overdoses, suicides and homicides that are linked to drugs. We have found other methods do work and we need to push for more education and treatment programs.”