Safe Syringe Act: Senate Bill 806

Senator Dickerson 

BILL SUMMARY

ON MARCH 20, 2017, THE SENATE ADOPTED AMENDMENT #1 AND PASSED SENATE BILL 806, AS AMENDED.

AMENDMENT #1 rewrites this bill and authorizes, if approved by the department of health, any nongovernmental organization, including an organization that promotes scientifically proven ways of mitigating health risks associated with drug use and other high-risk behaviors, to establish and operate a needle and hypodermic syringe exchange program. 

Programs established pursuant to this amendment must offer all of the following:
(1) Disposal of used needles and hypodermic syringes;
(2) Needles, hypodermic syringes, and other injection supplies at no cost and in quantities sufficient to ensure that needles, hypodermic syringes, and other injection supplies are not shared or reused. No public funds may be used to purchase needles, hypodermic syringes, or other injection supplies;
(3) Reasonable and adequate security of program sites, equipment, and personnel. Written plans for security must be provided to the law enforcement offices with jurisdiction in the program location and shall be updated annually;
(4) Educational materials on certain specified topics such as overdose prevention and treatment for substance abuse;
(5) Access to naloxone for the treatment of a drug overdose, or referrals to programs that provide access to naloxone for the treatment of a drug overdose; and
(6) Personal consultations from a program employee or volunteer concerning mental health or addiction treatment as appropriate for each individual requesting services.

Under this amendment, it will be an exception to the application of the drug laws if an employee, volunteer, or participant of a program established pursuant to this amendment possesses needles, hypodermic syringes, or other injection supplies obtained from or returned to a program established pursuant to this amendment; or residual amounts of a controlled substance contained in a used needle, used hypodermic syringe, or used injection supplies obtained from or returned to a program established pursuant to this amendment. This exception will apply only if the person claiming the exception provides written verification that a needle, syringe, or other injection supplies were obtained from a needle and hypodermic syringe exchange program established pursuant to this amendment. In addition to any other applicable immunity or limitation on civil liability, a law enforcement officer who, acting on good faith, arrests or charges a person who is thereafter determined to be entitled to immunity from prosecution under this amendment will not be subject to civil liability for the arrest or filing of charges.

Prior to commencing operations of a program established pursuant to this amendment and obtaining approval from the department of health, the nongovernmental organization must report to the department of health certain information identified in this amendment, such as the areas and populations to be served by the program. Also, not later than one year after commencing operations of a program, and every 12 months thereafter, each organization operating such a program must report certain information to the department, such as the number of individuals served by the program; and the number of naloxone kits distributed by the program.

ON APRIL 24, 2017, THE HOUSE SUBSTITUTED SENATE BILL 806 FOR HOUSE BILL 770, ADOPTED AMENDMENT #2, AND RESET SENATE BILL 806, AS AMENDED.

AMENDMENT #2 requires the department of health to annually compile and submit to the general assembly a report containing the information submitted to it pursuant to this bill. This amendment also requires that rules promulgated pursuant to this bill be submitted to the house health committee and senate health and welfare committee at the same time the rules are made available to the government operations committees.

ON MAY 3, 2017, THE HOUSE FURTHER CONSIDERED SENATE BILL 806, AS AMENDED BY AMENDMENT #2, ADOPTED AMENDMENTS #5 AND #6, AND PASSED SENATE BILL 806, AS AMENDED.

AMENDMENT #5 specifies that for a participant in the program, the exception will only apply to possession when the participant is engaged in the exchange or in transit to or from the exchange. This amendment also adds that in addition to any other applicable immunity or limitation on civil liability, a nongovernmental organization and an employee or volunteer of that organization are not subject to civil liability for establishing, operating, or participating in a program established pursuant to this bill in the absence of gross negligence or willful, intentional, or malicious conduct.

AMENDMENT #6 requires that a program strive for one-to-one syringe exchanges. This amendment also prohibits a program from conducting an exchange within 2,000 feet of any school or public park.

© 2016 by Tennessee Overdose Prevention.

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