Newsbrief: Needle Access Bill Killed in New Jersey 12/5/03

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A bill that would have legalized the possession and sale without prescription of syringes (SB 2794) died Wednesday under pressure from the state Attorney General and a handful of legislators. New Jersey is one of only five states where it remains illegal to possess a syringe or buy one without a prescription. And only in New Jersey and Delaware are needle exchange programs also banned.

With 46% of new HIV cases caused by shared needles according to the New Jersey Health Department -- nearly twice the national average -- a broad coalition of public health, religious, and drug reform groups had worked with state legislators to craft a bill that was aimed at reducing the rate of HIV infections related to injection drug use. The bill had bipartisan sponsorship and was endorsed by city councils in Atlantic City, Newark, Jersey City and Camden.

But it fell afoul of Republican drug warriors. "We're certainly sensitive to the issue of HIV transmission from the sharing of needles," Attorney General's Office spokesman Lee Moore said. "However, we're concerned this bill is not the proper vehicle for addressing it." It doesn't address needle disposal, he told the Atlantic City Press, and it lacked measures to prevent needles being sold in "illicit markets."

[Editor's Note: We are still trying to figure out how creating a legal market creates an illegal market.]

On Wednesday, the Republican legislative team in Ocean County's 9th District joined the attack, issuing a statement calling the bill "a giant step backwards in the enforcement of the drug war in New Jersey." Sen. Leonard Connors also warned that the bill was a prelude to needle-exchange programs in the state.

That was enough to convince the bill's Senate sponsor, Joseph Vitale (D) to pull the bill. But it could come back next year.

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Issue #314, 12/5/03 Congressman Seeks to Censor Public Service Transit Ads with Drug Reform Messages -- Istook Provoked By Pro-Marijuana Ads on DC Metro | Thailand Declares Itself "Drug Free" -- Sort Of -- As Human Rights Watchdogs Condemn Anti-Drug Campaign | Italy Marches Bravely into 20th Century: Government Proposal Would Recriminalize Drug Possession, Including Marijuana | Drug Decrim Bill Introduced in Argentina -- Would Also Bar Forced Treatment | Newsbrief: Bhutan Banning Tobacco | Newsbrief: Chicago Catholic High School to Drug Test All Students | Newsbrief: DEA Tries RAVE Act Intimidation Again, But Activists Successfully Fight Back | Newsbrief: Supreme Court Rules Cops Need Wait Only 20 Seconds Before Kicking Down Door | Newsbrief: Federal Appeals Court Rules Traffic Stop Drug Dog Search Illegal | Newsbrief: Needle Access Bill Killed in New Jersey | Newsbrief: Lieberman Clueless On California Medical Marijuana Raids | Newsbrief: This Week's Corrupt Cop (or Teach the Children Well) | Newsbrief: Dr. Donald Abrams Receives FDA Approval for First Human Vaporizer Research | Web Scan: Web Chat with Ira and Ethan, Reason on Ecstasy Research, C-Span Drug Debate, Stratford High Footage | DRCNet Temporarily Suspending Our Web-Based Write-to-Congress Service Due to Funding Shortfalls -- Your Help Can Bring It Back -- Keep Contacting Congress in the Meantime | Perry Fund Accepting Applications for 2003-2004 and 2004-2005 School Years, Providing Scholarships for Students Losing Aid Because of Drug Convictions | The Reformer's Calendar

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