Skip to content ↓

Paraphernalia Laws, Criminalizing Possession and Distribution of Items Used to Consume Illicit Drugs, and Injection-Related Harm

The U.S. is in the grip of an unprecedented epidemic of drug-related harm. Infections of HIV, hepatitis C, and endocarditis related to lack of access to new syringes and subsequent syringe sharing among people who inject drugs have increased alongside a surge in opioid overdose deaths. Overwhelming evidence shows that using a new syringe with every injection prevents injection-related blood-borne disease transmission. Additionally, there is promising research suggesting that the distribution of fentanyl test strips to people who inject drugs changes individuals’ injection decisions, which enables safer drug use and reduces the risk of fatal overdose. However, laws prohibiting the possession of syringes and fentanyl test strips persist in nearly every state. The full and immediate repeal of state paraphernalia laws is both warranted and needed to reduce opioid overdose death and related harms.