Politics & Policy
New Jersey Governor to Ask Legislature to Allow Needle-Exchange Programs to Prevent Spread of HIV
September 1, 2004
New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey (D) plans to ask state legislators to amend state law to allow needle-exchange programs to prevent the spread of HIV, state Health Commissioner Clifton Lacy said on Tuesday, the Newark Star-Ledger reports. "There is convincing evidence these programs are beneficial and do not cause an increase in intravenous drug use in the communities [where] they operate," Lacy said. McGreevey has said he would like to make needle-exchange programs legal in New Jersey before his resignation on Nov. 15. McGreevey's proposal coincides with an expected ruling on Wednesday from state Superior Court Judge Valerie Armstrong on whether the Atlantic City Health Department can operate its own needle-exchange program (Livio, Newark Star-Ledger, 9/1). The Atlantic City, N.J., City Council in June approved 7-1 a proposal to implement a program, although the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General in May said that the proposed needle-exchange program does not have the legal authority to operate. Atlantic City Health and Human Services Director Ron Cash said that the city's authority to begin such a program was based on a 1999 amendment that exempts government agencies from a section of state law that criminalizes needle and syringe possession, but state Attorney General Peter Harvey (D) reviewed the law and determined that it allows government agencies to distribute needles and syringes only to people with prescriptions. Atlantic County Prosecutor Jeffrey Blitz later filed a lawsuit to halt the implementation of the state's first needle-exchange program. Blitz in a four-page civil suit filed in Superior Court said that the program would violate state law and requested that Atlantic City be prohibited from moving forward with the program (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 6/25).
Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, search the archives, or sign up for email delivery at www.kaisernetwork.org/dailyreports/hiv. The Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of the Kaiser Family Foundation, by The Advisory Board Company. © 2004 by The Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.
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