CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — The New Hampshire House has passed a bill to remove the criminal penalty for possessing a syringe with “unusable” amounts of illegal drugs and to allow organizations other than pharmacies to take back dirty needles.

Advocates for the proposal, which passed 272-86 on Wednesday, say it will help prevent outbreaks of Hepatitis C or other illnesses transferable through needles. They say removing the criminal penalty for carrying needles with unusable drugs will encourage drug users to dispose of needles cleanly.

Opponents of the bill say that while its aims are laudable, it does nothing to set guidelines for workable needle exchange programs. Opponents also question what constitutes an unusable or residual amount of a drug, particularly of the potent drug fentanyl, a top contributor to overdose deaths in the state.



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