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Drug Paraphernalia Laws and Alternatives to Syringe Exchange

posted on Tue, Feb 13 2018 12:25 pm by Colleen Healy Boufides

A requester recently contacted the Network noting that in Kansas it is illegal for a pharmacist to sell drug paraphernalia, including syringes or needles, knowing or under circumstances where the pharmacist “reasonably should know” that the items are likely to be used for illicit injection drug use. The requester added that his/her state also has no syringe exchange sites. 

Limited access to clean syringes may increase the likelihood that IV drug users will share needles, increasing the spread of diseases like HIV and hepatitis C. The requester wanted to know if other states have similar laws banning the sale of needles and syringes and what strategies for harm reduction have been used in states with similar laws.

For a survey of laws regarding needles and syringes, the Network referred the requester to the Policy Surveillance Program’s Law Atlas Project, which offers a review of different states’ Syringe Possession Laws. Clicking on one or more of the questions listed will lead to drop down menus with additional questions. Adding responses to any questions of interest will pull up relevant data. Alternatively, clicking on individual states on the map provides descriptions of the law in that state.

For alternative harm reduction strategies, a 2013 HuffPost article, Moving Beyond That-Which-Must-Not-Be-Named: Alternatives to Syringe Exchange, by Tessie Castillo of the North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition, discusses potential avenues for tackling the health implications associated with shared needle use through mechanisms other than syringe exchange programs.

Network attorneys are available to answer questions on this and other public health topics at no cost to you, and can assist you in using law to advance your public health initiatives. Contact a Network Attorney in your area for more information.

The legal information and assistance provided in this document does not constitute legal advice or legal representation. For legal advice, readers should consult a lawyer in their state.