CASJ Funded by AIDS United and the Elton John AIDS Foundation to provide Legal Syringe Possession Initiative
CASJ’s new Long Island-region Legal Syringe Possession Initiative (LSPI) provides information at each level of the criminal justice system – law enforcement, defense attorneys. prosecutors, and the judiciary – to ensure recent changes in the NYS Penal Law (which explicitly reference NYS PHL 3381) regarding syringe possession (§220.45) and possession of drug residue inside a used syringe (§220.03) are understood and recognized in practice.
The proper implementation of this law is absolutely essential to the public health achievements made possible by syringe access programs. If people who inject drugs are afraid to access sterile syringes, they are likely to re-use or share needles. They will also be less likely to dispose of used syringes safely, maintaining a potential public health crisis and public safety hazard that this law was designed to reduce.
When possible, CASJ’s LSPI is also working with other CBOs that serve injection drug users who have been arrested in Nassau or Suffolk County for possessing a hypodermic instrument or drug residue in a syringe.
CASJ’s Executive Director, Tina Wolf, is available to provide your organization with the following free services:
• On-site staff training about the law and procedures to follow if a participant reports being arrested;
• Legal case management for participants who have been arrested for syringe possession; and
• Collaboration with and information for your participants’ attorneys
NYS Penal Law Section 220.45 – Possession of a Hypodermic Instrument
Possession of a hypodermic instrument is NOT a violation of the law if the syringe was obtained through a Syringe Exchange Program (SEP) or Expanded Syringe Access Program (ESAP). Obtain syringes legally and be sure to always carry your SEP ID Card or ESAP insert.
To find a NYS Syringe Exchange Program, click here: http://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/aids/harm_reduction/needles_syringes/docs/sep_hours_sites.pdf
Most large chain pharmacies are ESAP providers and can sell up to ten syringes at a time to customers at least 18 years of age. To find an ESAP provider, click here: http://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/aids/harm_reduction/needles_syringes/esap/docs/esap_providers.pdf
NYS 911 Good Samaritan Law
Don’t be afraid to call 911 to report an overdose! As of September 18, 2011, New York State’s “911 Good Samaritan” Law provides immunity from charge and prosecution for individuals possessing less than 8 oz of narcotics if they call 911 to report an overdose.
For more information, read The Drug Policy Alliance’s issue brief here: