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North Carolina Partial Needle Decriminalization Bill Passes

A bill that would partially decriminalize syringe possession and help prevent needle sticks has passed the North Carolina legislature. The state House passed it 111-2 last month, and it passed the Senate Wednesday on a unanimous 48-0 vote. The bill, House Bill 850, now goes to the governor.

The bill would allow people carrying syringes to avoid arrest if they admit to having them when asked by a law enforcement office. The measure won broad law enforcement support because it would reduce the chance of police officers getting stuck by needles when searching people.

Previous efforts to pass syringe decriminalization or exchange bills in the Tarheel State had foundered, but thanks to a smart and patient campaign by the North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition and its allies, this effort has now made it through the legislature.

"A lot of legislators would like to support it, but view it as tough politically, so we are trying to do something a bit more progressive and a bit more conservative instead, which is to decriminalize syringe possession," the coalition's Robert Childs explained to the Chronicle last month. "With syringe exchanges, there are limits. You have to be a member to reap the benefits. But with decriminalization, we can decriminalize syringes entirely, no matter the source, what it's being used for or where in the state you live. So no matter if you have Addison's disease, diabetes or are a injection drug user, you can carry syringes and do not have to be part of a government sponsored program to get benefits."

In addition to addressing law enforcement concerns, syringe decriminalization also goes with conservative values, Childs said.

"Decriminalization will decrease law enforcement needle sticks, but what really resonated with the legislature was its emphasis on less spending on costly diseases, greater reliance on the community members, personal accountability and responsibility," he said. "We stand in solidarity with our conservative allies on this issue by solving these public health and public order issues through deregulation."

Raleigh, NC
United States
Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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Thats the best that nc can do??


I.V. use mythology

Well they have a long way to go in North Carolina while some places have harm reduction programs!!

Using a needle for a drug like Heroin or morphine is not really such a horror show as the propagandist War on Drugs makes it out to be. If injecting drugs is "abuse" then why do they abuse us when we go to a hospital?

Oh, because its clean there? Hardly - you are far more likely to pick up an infection in hospitals than in your home. And safe injection programs have the wash, alcohol wipe, sterile water and clean needle idea down pat and there is a near-zero chance of infection doing an injection like that at home.

Sure, using puddle water in the back alley with a shared needle used 10 times is risky, but that happens BECAUSE of this attitude in N.C. I know people who have been injecting their heroin for more than TEN YEARS and they do not have HIV or Hepatitis or big ugly bruises or wrecked veins. And yes, they are still alive.

Drugs are meant to be effective, and injecting opiates is more effective than swallowing, plus swallowing increases the gut problems, especially constipation.

Lets get real. It is difficult to believe this is the 21st C.

As someone who has seen

I have a sibling who is addicted to meth, as well as herion, she began due to untreated back issues and when she could still feel her back she would always reach for a stronger drug. Keeping this in mind people using sechduled IV drugs aren't in their right and I'm in agreement you are more likely to pick something up from a hospital rather than your own home. If you seriously think about it how clean and kept are the homes of these users? Depending on the advancement of their addiction and their own personal living situations they may be living in the alley, underneath the box  and the only place they are of able to get needles is through the pharmacy. This bills also allows our men and women who have chosen to serve and protect us to have better condition to work in, if they so choose to. Of course dumping a purse out or shining your flashlight in it before you blindly reach in would reduce the amount of stick but giving the officers another choice of all together getting rid of the problem by simply asking if they have anything make the process less sticky. Most drug users may not be known of this law but it is a step in the right direction in may case because knowing there is a problem and solving it by looking at preventive causes rather than telling then that they are outcast, Nobody s perfect, even I know this but it isn't the strive for perfection we're looking for it is the strive to better ourselves and if we continue to believe that drug users are all crazy then they feel unwelcome to help and we are no longer providing then with an option out, only a cycle to continue to fall in. 

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