Harm Reduction: Delaware Needle Exchange Bill Passes House, Awaits Governor's Signature 7/7/06

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The Delaware House approved a needle exchange bill on a 23-15 vote June 29. With the bill having already passed the Senate last year, it now goes to Gov. Ruth Ann Minner (D). Minner is expected to sign the bill, which would leave New Jersey as the only state in the nation without a law authorizing needle exchange programs.

The bill establishes a five-year pilot program in Wilmington, where addicts can exchange used needles for new ones provided by the Department of Public Health. The project would be mobile, with a van sent into areas of high injection drug use. Needle exchange participants would also be offered HIV testing, counseling, and referrals to drug treatment programs. Participants would be issued ID cards and the state-provided needles would carry labels exempting them from the state's drug paraphernalia law.

Supporters of the bill say the program will reduce the number of HIV, Hepatitis C, and other blood-borne diseases caused by injection drug use. Delaware's HIV infection rate is among the highest in the nation, and shared drug injection equipment is a primary mode of transmission for the virus in the state.

Republican opponents of the bill said it sends the wrong message. "Delaware has a serious heroin problem," said Attorney General Carl Danberg in a statement read on the House floor. "I cannot support anything which has the appearance of condoning intravenous heroin use."

Fortunately, the legislature was more interested in the reality of reducing HIV and Hep C infections than the appearance of being "soft on drugs."

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Issue #443 -- 7/7/06

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Editorial: Is Ecstasy a Dangerous Drug? | Medical Marijuana: Five Arrested, 13 Dispensaries Raided by DEA in San Diego | Feature: Battle Over California's Proposition 36 to Head to Court | Feature: Wisconsin Drug Reform Activist and Senate Candidate Ben Masel Assaulted, Arrested By Campus Cops, Plans to Sue | Sad News: Drug Policy Scholar Lynn Zimmer Dead at 59 | Law Enforcement: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories | Vote Hemp Alert: Proposed North Dakota Hemp Rules | Australia: Member of South Australia Parliament Says Raves Safer Than Hotel Bars, Urges Testing Programs for Ecstasy and Other Pills | Europe: Russian Official Calls for Ban on Magazines Over Drug, Sex Content | Harm Reduction: Delaware Needle Exchange Bill Passes House, Awaits Governor's Signature | Harm Reduction: Massachusetts Governor Vetoes Needle Sales Bill | Canadian Senator and Former Mayor Roasts UN Anti-Drug Chief in E-Mail over "World Drug Report" | Web Scan: Politicians Who Have Used Marijuana Radio Ad, Tony Papa on Dwight Gooden, VICS Cannabinoid Chronicles | Weekly: This Week in History | Weekly: The Reformer's Calendar

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