Needle Exchange Hearings to Be Held in New Jersey; Whitman Refuses to Consider
A New Jersey government AIDS advisory group announced in October that it would begin studying the prospect of establishing needle exchange programs or legalizing sale of syringes in pharmacies, but Governor Christine Todd Whitman said such policies would never become a reality in her state.
David W. Troast, chairman of Whitman's Advisory Council on AIDS, said the review was prompted by a number of recent reports showing needle exchange and legalized sale of needles reduce the spread of AIDS and do not encourage drug use (see "Government Report Supports Lifting Ban on Federal Funding for Needle Exchange," NewsBriefs, November 1995).
Governor Christine Todd Whitman, who directs the Council, said she would never allow needle exchange or nonprescription sale of needles in New Jersey. "I have a philosophic problem with government being in the business of facilitating illegal activity," she said. "Intravenous drug use is illegal, and for the government to give out needles ... is to my mind just wrong" even though "some lives would be saved." She said the drug problem is already bad enough without the government sending "a mixed signal" (Bill Sanderson and Carol Ann Campbell, "Whitman Blasts Needle Program to Cut HIV," The Record (Bergen County, NJ), October 24, 1995, p. A3).
Troast said he expects the council to hold hearings in January and to prepare a report by February (Carol Ann Campbell, "Hearing to Explore Needle Exchange," The Record (Bergen County, NJ), November 2, 1995, p. A-4).
Two bills, both sponsored by Sen. Wynona M. Lipman (D-Newark), are currently pending in the New Jersey legislature to establish needle exchange and to allow syringes to be sold in drug stores.
[For more information, contact James Safford at the Governor's Advisory Council on AIDS at CN 360, Trenton, NJ 08625, 609-984-7160.]