The New Jersey Legislature is considering a bill that would allow syringes to be sold without a prescription. Currently only New Jersey and Delaware require a prescription for syringes.
Most states either never banned syringe sales or got rid of the requirement long ago to prevent drug users from spreading HIV through shared needles, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Some states originally banned non-prescription syringe sales because of a concern about the increase in morphine and heroin use. New Jersey’s ban was passed in 1955. Many states repealed their bans after studies showed drug users would purchase needles in pharmacies instead of on the black market if they could, the article notes.
In 1994, the governor set up a panel to study the question. Two years later, the panel recommended lifting the pharmacy ban, but the governor opposed the move. Some lawmakers said that making syringes easier to obtain would encourage drug use. The state set up needle-exchange programs in five cities in 2006.
In 2010, the state Senate passed the bill, but it failed in an Assembly committee. This month, the committee passed the bill. The full Assembly is expected to vote on the bill this year. If it passes, it would be up to Governor Chris Christie to decide its fate. So far, he has not said whether he will sign the bill.