Needle exchange bill now law

Jun 19, 2017

BY: CCNH-LFDA Highlights

On Friday, June 16 Gov. Chris Sununu signed SB 234 into law, allowing needle exchanges in New Hampshire. 

SB 234 allows community health organizations to collect needles with trace amounts of drugs and dispense clean needles, without any state funding involved.

Such needle exchange programs aim to decrease the spread of HIV and hepatitis C among drug users. They also provide an opportunity to share information with drug users about treatment options.

“Until now, New Hampshire was the only New England state without a needle exchange program of some kind, and the results were disastrous: 70% of users treated at Catholic Medical Center in Manchester test positive for hepatitis C,” said Sen. David Watters. “It’s our hope that this legislation can begin to remove some of the stigma that leads to the dangerous misuse of IVs and syringes and help get more people into treatment and prevent a public health risk.” 

Some opponents believe that needle exchanges only enable drug users.

Law enforcement also expressed concern that by legalizing trace amounts of drugs in needles, SB 234 takes an important tool away from officers. At the Senate bill hearing, the New Hampshire Department of Safety testified that used syringes may be used in evidence for an impaired driving case if the driver refuses a blood test. The department also testified that trace amounts of fentanyl can still be lethal.

SB 234 does include the statement that a person may only possess a needle with trace amounts of drugs if the person is part of a needle exchange program.

When we asked our community about needle exchanges this past January, commenters were split on the issue.  Click here to read a summary of the discussion.

Do you support SB 234? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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