Newsbrief: Needle Exchange Bill Passes New Jersey Assembly 10/8/04

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Needle exchange finally appears to be on the fast track in New Jersey. Just weeks after departing Gov. Scott McGreevey signaled his approval of needle exchange program (NEP) legislation, a bill that would permit Garden State cities to operate such programs has been approved by two committees and was passed by New Jersey Assembly in a Thursday afternoon vote. It picked up $10 million in funding for drug treatment earlier in the week when it was approved by the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

"Needle exchange programs have been proven to be an effective deterrent to the spread of HIV and other infectious diseases," Assembly Majority Leader Joseph Roberts (D-Camden), who cosponsored the measure, told his colleagues. "New Jersey is alarmingly behind the curve of the vast majority of other states that have looked at the data and embraced needle-exchange strategies." Along with neighboring Delaware, New Jersey is one of only two states that neither have NEPS nor allow for the sale of syringes without a prescription.

The issue of NEPs has been festering for years in New Jersey, ever since then-Gov. Christine Whitman blocked legislation in the early 1990s. It finally came to a head earlier this year when the municipalities of Atlantic City and Camden voted to authorize NEPs in defiance of local prosecutors and the state attorney general, who successfully argued state law did not authorize such programs.

But it was the impending departure of Gov. McGreevey under a cloud of scandal that cleared the way. Without reelection worries, a McGreevey spokesperson told DRCNet last month, the governor could concentrate on "good policy, not good politics." Now, it is on to the New Jersey Senate.

To read the bill, A3256, "The Bloodborne Disease Harm Reduction Act" online, go to http://www.njleg.state.nj.us and type in the bill number.

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Issue #357, 10/8/04 Editorial: A Tragedy in the Capital | Medical Marijuana Activists Besiege HHS, Demand Rescheduling | Drug Policy and the Presidential Election -- Introduction | The Election I: Bush and Kerry on Drugs: Past Records and Platform Planks | The Election II: Drug Reformers on Kerry and Bush, Nader and Badnarik | The Election III: DRCNet Interview: Independent Presidential Candidate Ralph Nader | The Election IV: DRCNet Interview: Michael Badnarik, Libertarian Party Presidential Candidate (repeat) | Newsbrief: Supreme Court Hears Oral Arguments in Critical Federal Sentencing Cases | Newsbrief: Needle Exchange Bill Passes New Jersey Assembly | Newsbrief: Protests Rise over Award as Thai Prime Minister Prepares for New Round of Drug War | Newsbrief: Bolivia's Chapare Cocaleros Sign Historic Agreement with Government | Newsbrief: DEA Pulls Prescription Pain Medicine FAQs Without Explanation | Newsbrief: Hemp Crops in Western Australia Stymied By Licensing Requirements | Newsbrief: Atlanta Cops Use Forfeited Funds to Buy Bigger Guns | Newsbrief: No Asset Forfeiture for Misdemeanor Drug Charges, Tennessee Says | Newsbrief: Texas DA Says Doctors Must Turn In Drug-Using Pregnant Women | Newsbrief: Another Killer Cop Walks Free | Newsbrief: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories | This Week in History | Administrative Assistant: Part-Time Job Opportunity at DRCNet | The Reformer's Calendar
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