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Mar 23, 2016 6:02 PM

NH lawmakers vote to eliminate penalty for carrying needles with small amounts of drugs

CONCORD - The state house has passed a bill to remove the criminal penalty for carrying needles with small amounts of drugs.

Advocates say it will help prevent hepatitis C outbreaks and will encourage drug users to properly dispose of syringes.

Some are even arguing that the criminal penalty is unconstitutional.

"The felony is the same penalty for possessing an unusable amount as it is for trafficking under one gram of heroin and other substances," one lawmaker said. "The punishment does not fit the crime in this instance at all."

Opponents question what the term "unusable amount" of a drug means, especially when it comes to fentanyl.

The bill will also allow organizations other than pharmacies to take back dirty needles.

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