Governor Signs Needle Exchange Program into Law

Earlier today, the governor signed the “Bloodborne Disease Harm Reduction Act,” which allows up to six municipalities to establish needle exchange programs as part of a demonstration project. The bill also appropriates $10 million for drug treatment.

The demonstration project requires that municipalities interested in participating adopt an ordinance and that participants in the needle exchange program be given information and referrals for HIV counseling and testing, drug abuse treatment programs and health and social services.

The Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) will establish the parameters of the needle exchange program by regulation. The Commissioner of the Department of Human Services is required under the legislation to develop a plan to create and fund regional drug abuse treatment facilities.

Prior to the enactment of this new law, possession of hypodermic needles and syringes was banned under both NJSA 2C:36-2 (drug paraphernalia) and NJSA 2C:36-6 (possession of a set of works). However, Section 8 of the new law provides:

“The possession of a hypodermic syringe or needle by a consumer who participates in, or an employee or volunteer of, a sterile syringe access program established pursuant to sections 3 and 4 of P.L. , c. (C. )(pending before the Legislature as this bill) shall not constitute an offense pursuant to N.J.S.2C:36-1 et seq. This provision shall extend to a hypodermic syringe or needle that contains a residual amount of a controlled dangerous substance or controlled substance analog.”

Download a copy of the Act in PDF format. In reviewing the statute, note that materials in [brackets] have been deleted and are not part of the final version of the law.

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