A legal opinion issued Monday by New Jersey's Office of Legislative Services says former governor James E. McGreevey may have acted beyond his authority when he signed an executive order allowing Camden, Atlantic City, and one more New Jersey city not yet chosen to set up needle-exchange programs for drug users. The order declared the spread of HIV through injection-drug use a public-health emergency for which the governor is permitted to issue an order under the Disaster Control Act.
Assemblyman Joe Pennacchio, a Republican, requested the legal opinion, questioning whether the prevalence of HIV infections constitutes an emergency under the act. "We believe that it is unclear whether the transmission of HIV/AIDS through intravenous-drug use, at this time, constitutes an emergency, but if it does, the means by which [the executive order] addresses the emergency appear to be beyond those statutorily delegated to the governor," said the OLS opinion.
Pennacchio says only the legislature has the power to allow municipalities to institute needle-exchange programs. He asked acting governor Richard Codey to stop the exchanges. (AP)