Laws Restricting Syringe Availability

"Programs that provide access to sterile syringes have been proven time and again to reduce HIV transmission without either encouraging drug use or increasing drug related crime. Syringe exchange, as well as similar measures such as nonprescription pharmacy sale of syringes, is an effective and life-saving health intervention. Yet syringe exchange is banned in much of the United States and, where it is allowed, is obstructed by laws forbidding the possession of drug paraphernalia. Other modes of syringe access, such as nonprescription pharmacy sale of syringes, are as of this writing forbidden in five states: California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Delaware, and Pennsylvania. Almost all fifty states have enacted drug paraphernalia laws similar to model legislation written by the Drug Enforcement Agency in 1979 under President Jimmy Carter. Drug paraphernalia laws are encouraged by United Nations anti-drug conventions, which call on governments to take aggressive law enforcement measures against illicit drug use."


Human Rights Watch, "Injecting Reason: Human Rights and HIV Prevention for Injection Drug Users," (September 2003)