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Romney opposes Massachusetts needle-sale bill

Romney opposes Massachusetts needle-sale bill

Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney does not support the state Department of Public Health's proposed legislation to legalize over-the-counter sales of hypodermic needles as a way of preventing blood-borne diseases like HIV and hepatitis C among injection-drug users, his spokesman said Wednesday. "The position of the governor and the lieutenant governor is, we don't want to do anything to that facilitates illegal drug use," said Eric Fehrnstrom. "If you allow addicts easy access to the tools of the trade, you are facilitating illegal drug use." Massachusetts is one of just three states that ban the sale of hypodermic needles without a prescription. Almost 39% of the state's HIV cases are linked to needle sharing. Public-health advocates, physicians, and substance-abuse experts support the health department's proposed bill. While many prosecutors and top police officials have long opposed the measure, resulting in its numerous defeats over the past decade, some appear to be changing their position. At hearings on Wednesday, Middlesex County district attorney Martha Coakley, Suffolk County district attorney Daniel Conley, and a Boston police representative said their views have evolved from seeing needle access as unhelpful to the war on drugs to viewing it now as a way to fight HIV. Also at the hearings, public-health experts testified that research conclusively shows that needle sharing and the number of HIV cases related to intravenous drug use have dropped significantly in states that permit over-the-counter sales. Fehrnstrom said it is too soon to say whether Romney would veto the bill if it crossed his desk. (AP)

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