A number of states still enforce laws that make the possession of needles for drug use a crime. These laws do not result in less drug abuse; they just make existing drug abuse more damaging.
When we know that sharing needles increases the probability of HIV and other infections, why are we enforcing laws that penalize addicts who try to use safely? Why in this day and age, when we know so much about the risks of HEP C, HIV, and other diseases, would we possibly still want to criminalize the possession of clean needles?
Certain states currently do have drug paraphernalia laws and these laws are enforced. These laws do not of course result in intravenous drug users using proportionally less heroin or cocaine, but they do greatly decreases the probability than an addict will risk carrying around clean needles to use.
The risks of contracting a fatal blood borne disease are extremely high when abusing intravenous drugs, and public health and policy makers should be encouraging the use of clean needles, instead of penalizing addicts who try to use more safely. Heroin users, when it comes right down to it, are going to use; and while they would all prefer a safe and clean needle, when the choice is either a used needle, or no heroin…we all no how it’s going to go down.
Let’s change this damaging law, encourage IV drug users to use clean needles, and supply these needles through needle exchange programs. Let’s also have great access to drug rehabilitation programs available, and try to reduce the numbers of people that are dependent on these drugs, instead of simply forcing them into even higher risk administration practices
Drug policy is rarely simple, but this is one policy that seems pretty clear. We are hurting them, and we are hurting ourselves. We are increasing the spread of infectious disease through outdated laws that increase the probability of unsafe injection practices.