Needle Exchange

Courtesy of Project 439

The state’s first needle exchange program in Claremont has closed its doors, at least for now.

Paige Sutherland/NHPR

Needle exchange programs are now legal in New Hampshire. But since the state is providing no financial support or other resources for them, some groups are wondering how to go about starting one.

One group in Strafford County is taking on that guiding role.

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New Hampshire has invested millions of dollars into curbing its opioid epidemic. But progress has been slow. That’s pushed some state policymakers and others to get creative.

This week, in a three-part series called “Alternatives,” NHPR’s Paige Sutherland reports on some less traditional approaches.

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The state’s first syringe exchange program has opened its doors.

Earlier this month Governor Chris Sununu signed a bill into law making such programs legal, allowing drug users to exchange used needles for clean ones.

Emily Corwin / NHPR

New Hampshire has joined 36 other states in allowing illicit drug users to exchange used needles for clean ones.

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The House of Representative backed a measure without debate  Thursday to legalize needle exchange programs in New Hampshire.

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A bill seeking to legalize needle exchange programs in New Hampshire passed the full Senate Thursday and now heads to the House. 

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New Hampshire Senators have voted to create a study commission to look at needle exchange programs rather than legalizing them. The proposal now heads back to the House, which if left unchanged, will then head to the Governor.

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The state Senate is considering legislation that would remove criminal penalties for possessing needles with trace amounts of drugs, an effort aimed at paving the way for needle exchange programs.

Senators will debate the bill during Thursday's session. A key committee recommends turning the bill into a study committee, effectively killing the effort for the year, but other amendments could be brought forward.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

The New Hampshire Senate returns this week with another loaded agenda. Meanwhile the House will have its hands full weighing in on dozens of Senate bills in committee.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

The New Hampshire Senate today will once again tackle a handful of bills geared at the state’s opioid crisis. Many of the proposals being related to illegal drug use.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Both the New Hampshire House and Senate will be in session this week but with a pretty light agenda – only about 20 bills are on the docket in both chambers.

But lawmakers will still hold dozens of public hearings – some to look at loosening up the state’s drug laws and others to build them up.

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The New Hampshire House on Wednesday overwhelmingly passed a bill that would legalize needle exchange programs. The measure now heads to the Senate.

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Designed to reduce the spread of disease by distributing clean needles to drug users, needle exchange programs can also provide outreach and referral for treatment.  Now, a bill in the legislature would allow these centers in New Hampshire. And while there's general support, concerns include whether to decriminalize trace amounts of heroin.

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On the Political Front is our weekly check-in with NHPR's Senior Political Reporter Josh Rogers. 

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State lawmakers are set to tackle a pile of bills this week, many of which address New Hampshire's drug crisis.  The bills include proposals to legalize needle exchanges and the creation of a statewide drug court program. 

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Lawmakers were evenly split Tuesday on whether or not the House should support the legalization of needle exchange programs in New Hampshire.

After a 7 to 7 vote, the bill now heads to the full House next week without recommendation from the Criminal Justice Committee. Last month the Health and Human Services Committee unanimously backed the measure.  

Dirty Bunny via Flickr/CreativeCommons

A bill seeking to legalize needle exchange programs in New Hampshire is getting some pushback from law enforcement. The debate rests on whether to make it legal to have trace amounts of heroin on a needle.

If passed the measure would legalize minute amounts of heroin left on used syringes. The aim, according to sponsor Rep. Joe Hannon, is to make sure those seeking to exchange dirty needles for clean ones can do so without fearing arrest.