Nebraska has proposed legislation that would allow pharmacies and health programs to distribute hypodermic needles that would be used for illicit drugs, in attempt to prevent the spread of disease.
Bill 307 was passed in the Nebraska legislature by a vote of 37-2 and will ultimately need approval through another round of voting before being given to Republican Governor Jim Pillen for review.
“Instead of just voting no, you brought your questions to me and we resolved them,” she said, according to SCNR.”That’s really what we were sent here to do. That’s what the work of lawmaking is about.”
As of at least March 2023, Senator Hunt was a member of the Democratic Socialists of America.
The law currently says it is a crime for any person to “deliver, possess with intent to deliver, or manufacture” drug paraphernalia knowing that it would be used to “manufacture, inject, ingest, or inhale or otherwise be used to introduce into the human body a controlled substance.”
The new bill would amend the law to exclude pharmacies and “the staff or participants of a public or behavioral health program.”
Violating the state law can result in a Class II misdemeanor, which can be punished by more than six months and a $1,000 fine.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, when people inject drugs through a syringe service program, they are more likely to enter treatment for substance abuse.
The Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction noted that the United States “supports a continued congressional ban on the use of federal funds to support” needle exchange programs.
Canada established its first program in 1989 and now operates over 30 across the country. Similar to the proposed Nebraska bill, Canadian law dictates that syringes cannot be provided for illicit drugs unless the needle is “represented for use in preventing” HIV infection.
Syringe exchange programs were operational in over 40 states as of 2022, SCNR noted.
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