New Hampshire has joined 36 other states in allowing illicit drug users to exchange used needles for clean ones.
The program is designed to reduce the spread of diseases like HIV and hepatitis C. A year ago, the needle exchange program was not an easy sell. Former N.H. state representative, Joe Hannon, sponsored a similar bill, last year. At the time, he said, people feared the needle exchanges would enable or encourage drug use. Law enforcement also disapproved of an aspect of that bill which decriminalized the possession of needles containing drug residue.
Today, the program is law. Now, Hannon says, state Medicaid dollars will be saved. “Just one case of hepatitis C can cost $90,000 or more in New Hampshire to treat,” he said.
Next, it’s up to community organizations to get these needle exchanges up and running.