Maine makes possession of syringes legal
It is no longer a crime in Maine to own syringes and other drug-related accessories, thanks to a new law that came into effect this month, reports the Maine Beacon. Harm reduction advocates see this as a great victory in the fight against overdose.
Prior to the passage of this law, anyone who possessed 11 or more syringes, even unused ones, could be charged with a Class D felony and face up to 354 days in prison and a fine of $ 2,000. Additionally, these charges could apply to people who trade needles – the same people who are trying to reduce overdoses, get people who inject drugs into treatment, and reduce hepatitis B rates. and C as well as HIV. All three viruses can be spread through shared needles.
“Most Mainers agree that punitive drug laws don’t work and that people who use drugs should have access to safety, not criminal penalties, stigma and increased risk of illness and death. due to preventable diseases, “Whitney Parrish, Director of Policy and Advocacy at Health Equity. Alliance (HEAL), which provides harm reduction services to residents of Maine, told the newspaper. “We need a public health response to a public health crisis, and this law is a transformative step towards rejecting our unsuccessful responses to drug use, rooting policies in pragmatism and what works. , and the decriminalization of safety and people who use drugs. “
As Hep reported two months ago, more than 94,000 people died of drug overdoses in the United States in 2020, the highest number on record – although that figure is expected to rise once more news data will arrive – compared to 48,126 overdose deaths for the year ending January 2015..
In 2020, Maine experienced its highest rate of overdose deaths – 504 – and the state is set to surpass that number in 2021. As reported by the Press Herald, cases of hepatitis C in Maine have grown in recent years.
HEAL noted that fear of criminal penalties prevents people who inject drugs from seeking treatment and from using harm reduction techniques, such as not sharing needles.
“We know that having laws in place that discourage the acquisition and use of clean needles increases the spread of infections and diseases like HIV and hepatitis and does not help people break free from an illness. addiction, ”said Bill’s sponsor Rep. Genevieve McDonald (D-Stonington) said during public testimony for the bill, according to the Beacon.
Hepatitis refers to inflammation of the liver. There can be many causes, but the hepatitis C virus can lead to lifelong infection, mild to severe scarring of the liver (fibrosis and cirrhosis, respectively), liver cancer, liver failure, and death. The good news is that hepatitis C is curable in most cases. To learn more, see the Hepatitis C Hepatitis Basics section of Hep Magazine, which includes an introduction to viral hepatitis as well as other forms of hepatitis and liver disease, such as steatosis. nonalcoholic liver disease (NAFLD), nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), alcoholic liver disease, autoimmune hepatitis and primary biliary cholangitis (PBC). And for a collection of articles in POZ on the intersection of hepatitis C virus and HIV, click on the hashtag #Hepatitis C.
HIV, on the other hand, is a virus that attacks the immune system. Over several years, the immune system becomes depleted and the body is unable to fight off infections, leading to a diagnosis of AIDS. Although there is no cure for HIV, there are many safe and effective treatments (often just one pill a day) available. Medicines help people living with HIV live long, healthy lives and prevent them from passing the virus on to others. To learn more, check out HIV / AIDS Basics at POZ.com, a sister publication of HepMag.com.