Syringe Exchange and Harm Reduction Policies in France

"Since May 198739, the unrestricted sale of syringes has been authorised in retail pharmacies, pharmacies located inside healthcare establishments and establishments that focus exclusively on selling medical, surgical and dental equipment or that have a specialised department for such equipment. Since March 199540, these may be issued free of charge by any non-profit association carrying out AIDS prevention or harm reduction activities among drug users; these associations must meet the French Ministry of Health requirements described in the decree (article D. 3121-27 of the French Public Health Code). Providing syringes and needles to minors is only authorised by prescription (art. D.3121-28 of the French Public Health Code). However, neither pharmacies nor associations are legally bound to ask users to provide their identity or age since the 1987 suspension of the provisions of the 1972 decree.
"It is not legal to arrest someone on the sole charge of narcotics use in immediate proximity to a harm reduction or syringe exchange structure (for example, pharmacy SEPs). Furthermore, simply carrying a syringe is not sufficient evidence to justify an arrest.
"A national harm reduction standard for drug users has been prepared (art. D. 3121-33 of the Public Health Code) and approved via the decree of 14 April 200541. Among other things, this stipulates that all participants, health professionals, social workers or members of associations, in addition to any persons to whom these activities are addressed, must be protected from accusations concerning drugs use or the incitation to use drugs during their work."


l'Observatoire francais des drogues et des toxicomanies (OFDT), "2012 National Report (2011 data) to the EMCDDA by the Reitox National Focal Point: France: New Development, Trends and in-depth information on selected issues (Saint-Denis, France: OFDT, 2012), p. 18.