Massachusetts State Senate Approves Needle Exchange Bill 6/2/00

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(courtesy Pioneer Valley Hepatitis C Action Project)

On Thursday (5/25), the Massachusetts Senate approved a bill allowing state health officials to implement needle exchange programs (NEPs). The bill must be approved by the House and signed by Gov. Paul Cellucci before it becomes law. Cellucci is said to support NEPs but believes that local communities, not the Public Health Commissioner, should implement them.

Previous legislation allows for local communities to implement NEPs, and they already exist in four communities: Boston, Cambridge, Provincetown, and Northampton. But some communities hardest hit by injection-related disease, including Springfield, New Bedford and Worcester, have rejected local initiatives to implement NEPs.

The new legislation is an attempt to circumvent the ability of opponents of NEPs to derail local initiatives by giving the Mass. Dept. of Public Health a free hand in implementing their own program in those areas. The proposal was approved on the last day of the Senate's debate of its annual budget. The outcome of the legislation is uncertain.

Last month, New York state took a different approach to liberalization of syringe availability by passing a law to allow pharmacies to sell syringes to injection drug users (see

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Issue #139, 6/2/00 DEA Supersnitch Goes Down in Flames, DEA Supervisors Next? Or, Who Will Investigate the Investigators? | Ecstasy Panic Looms: 1985 All Over Again? | Grow Canada: Health Canada Medical Marijuana Contract Has Bidders Abuzz | Two Drug Policy and Sentencing Reform Newsletters Come Out | ... While Another Newsletter Concludes Its Distinguished History | Pressure Builds to Reform Rockefeller Drug Laws | US Customs Urges Congress to Allow Searches of Out-of-Country Mail | Massachusetts State Senate Approves Needle Exchange Bill | Action AlertS | Media Scan | Event Calendar | Hartford, Connecticut Job Opportunity | Editorial: My First Controlled Substance

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