Massachusetts Court Rules Needle Exchanges Can Open Without Community Input

By: - June 16, 2017 12:00 am

Needle exchange programs endeavor to reduce the spread of disease by providing clean syringes and keeping dirty ones off the street.

© The Associated Press

A Massachusetts nonprofit will be allowed to operate its needle exchange program despite arguments that the group needs approval from town officials in order to operate.

The state Supreme Judicial Court ruled this week that the private AIDS Support Group can legally offer a needle exchange in the town of Barnstable without getting permission from the state or community.

Needle exchanges have long been used to stem the spread of diseases like AIDS and hepatitis C by putting clean syringes into the hands of drug users.

Earlier this year, Las Vegas became the first U.S. city to offer needle exchanges via vending machines. Other cities have considered establishing injection sites where addicts could take their drugs under medical supervision, though opponents say such facilities would violate federal law. 

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Sarah Breitenbach

Sarah Breitenbach, who writes about the business of government for Stateline, has spent much of her professional life writing about Maryland politics and policy. She began her career covering education and state government for the Frederick News-Post and has worked for the Gazette of Politics and Business and The Associated Press.