Declaring a state of emergency due to the spread of AIDS and other blood-borne diseases through intravenous drug use, outgoing New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey yesterday signed an executive order to allow for three local needle-exchange programs, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer. Two programs to allow addicts to exchange used syringes for sterile ones will be based in Camden and Atlantic City, cities that have struggled with high rates of HIV infections. McGreevey sidestepped opponents of needle exchanges who have bottled up legislation on the issue.
John Tomicki of the League of American Families, called the order McGreevey’s “death legacy” – a reference to McGreevey’s reported desire to bolster his legacy as governor before leaving office next month. Tomicki said some studies show that drug-overdose deaths increase when needle exchanges are allowed. Instead of legalizing needle exchanges, the state should increase funding for drug treatment, Tomicki said. The order does not address new funding for drug treatment. Pending legislation would provide $10 million for treatment.