Tag Archive: HIV

NON-SofS QoTD

“I commend the sponsors for putting forward legislation that seeks to reduce injection-related diseases. Stopping the spread of injection-related diseases in New Jersey is a primary public health concern that requires a comprehensive approach.”

–Chris Christie after signing over-the-counter needle exchange legislation.

Kudos and it’s about time!

Medical Marijuana showdown today in Trenton?

For the past year Governor Christie has ignored the will of NJ voters and a bi-partisan majority in the State House and refused to allow the state’s medical marijuana plan to proceed.

(State House)–Today in Trenton the Senate Judiciary Committee will meet to confirm (or not…) the Department of Health’s new chief commissioner. That role was vacated by Dr. Poonam Aleigh who recently got her head rolled resigned — supposedly to care for a dying relative. It’s unlikely that’s the only reason she left considering she’s already been shortlisted for a new executive job.

Anyway, Governor Christie has nominated Mary O’Dowd to be the new commish. She happens to be married to Kevin O’Dowd, one of Christie’s top legal advisers. Senator Nick Scutari chairs the judiciary committee that will decide Mary O’Dowd’s fate today. He’s also the primary sponsor of NJ’s Medical Marijuana law (that NJ’s Health Department is supposed to be overseeing….) Because Senator Scutari is the chairman of this committee, he can pin her down for answers about WTF the medical marijuana law continues to languish. If her answers are evasive or unsatisfying, her appointment could be held up.

Under the Dome

Tomorrow the Senate Health Committee is scheduled to take up S958 sponsored by Senators Vitale, Weinberg, and Scutari. The bill will allow NJ pharmacies to sell hypodermic syringes and needles to persons over 18 years of age without a prescription. As Roseanne Scotti, Director, Drug Policy Alliance of NJ, points out, “New Jersey is one of only two states that completely ban such over-the-counter sale of syringes.”

About 40% of NJ HIV cases have been related to use of shared, contaminated needles. Such needles can also transmit Hepatitis C and other serious blood-borne illnesses. People use needles for a wide variety of reasons, including illegal drugs, diabetes, steroids, and sex change, and they all too frequently share needles placing themselves at considerable risk. Passage of this bill will make clean needles and syringes more easily accessible and decrease the transmission of blood-borne illnesses. The bill has been under discussion for years. It is time to pass it now.

The Senate Health Committee will also hold a public hearing tomorrow on SCR130 regarding the re-proposed medicinal marijuana regulations. The committee may decide to rescind these faulty regulations.  

Under the Dome

Today both Senate and Assembly committees are scheduled to take up the identical Bill A1088/S958 sponsored by Senators Vitale, Weinberg, and Scutari and Assemblymen Gusciora and Johnson. The bill will allow NJ pharmacies to sell hypodermic syringes and needles to persons over 18 years of age without a prescription. As Roseanne Scotti, Director, Drug Policy Alliance of NJ, points out, “New Jersey is one of only two states that completely ban such over-the-counter sale of syringes.”

About 40% of NJ HIV cases have been related to use of shared, contaminated needles. Such needles can also transmit Hepatitis C and other blood-borne illnesses. People use needles for a wide variety of reasons, including illegal drugs, diabetes, steroids, and sex change, and they all too frequently share needles placing themselves at considerable risk. Passage of this bill will make needles and syringes more easily accessible and decrease the likelihood of transmission of blood-borne illnesses. The bill has been under discussion for years. It is time to pass it now.