Smart Needle Exchange Reform Bill Moving in Maryland

The Maryland Senate today moved to undo a restriction in existing state law that prevents injection drug users from picking up more clean needles at the Baltimore needle exchange than they turn in.

The Senate approved Senate Bill 263 by an overwhelming 39-5 vote. The measure now heads to the House.

The bill doesn't include a specific limit on the number of needles can pick up at one time, but one of the bill's supporters, Sen. Verna Jones-Rodwell (D-Baltimore), said 50 might be a good number, and that the bill may be amended to get specific.

The bill is supported by the entire Baltimore Senate delegation as well as the city of Baltimore.  The health department there says the city's needle exchange program serves about 2,500 people a year and exchanges about 200 needles for each one.

Needle exchanges are a proven means of reducing the transmission of HIV, Hep C, and other blood-borne illnesses among injection drug users.

Good on the Maryland Senate for moving to get rid of this mindless restriction.

Location: 
Annapolis, MD
United States
Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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AIDS virus

I have been an advocate for heroin maintenance and drug reform for many years.I saw a lot of media and attended a lot of meetings and the first time I noticed any real,concrete changes for the better was after the AIDS people began advocating for needle exchanges due to the spread of the virus into the addict community.People would listen politely and some even cared but there was never anything concrete done until after the AIDS people began advocating for us.Every addict tested positive for hepatitus for as long as I can remember but it was only after people began testing positive for AIDS that we got needle exchanges and any real progress towards a heroin program.Until there is a needle exchange program in prisons,the problem of Hep C amongst addicts will continue to be prevalent.Especially now,with the new prisons in which you can spend years and never see more than 14 inmates in prisons of hundreds.

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