By Advocate.com Editors
Originally published on Advocate.com December 10 2002 1:00 AM ET
The Massachusetts supreme court has ruled unanimously that state residents who receive hypodermic needles through one of the state's four local needle exchange programs cannot be arrested for needle possession in other communities that do not have exchanges, The Boston Globe reports.
The case revolved around Maria Landry, who legally obtained needles through a needle exchange program in Cambridge but was arrested for possession of drug paraphernalia in Lynn, which does not have such a program. Attorneys for the state argued that a 1993 amendment to state drug laws allows needle exchange participants to legally possess needles only in one of the four cities that have the exchange programs--Boston, Cambridge, Northampton, and Provincetown. However, the high court ruled that a participant in an approved needle exchange program could legally possess hypodermic needles received through the program anywhere in the state.
The needle exchange programs were launched in Massachusetts in the early 1990s to help prevent needle sharing among injection drug users, which can lead to the spread of blood-borne diseases such as HIV and hepatitis.