When possessing a syringe is not a crime

On Behalf of | Dec 2, 2019 | drug possession |

Some people in Georgia have certain medical needs that can only be met by using a syringe or a hypodermic needle to inject treatments. People who suffer from diabetes, for instance, require injections of insulin. But the problem with possessing or distributing a syringe is that syringes and needles are also considered possible drug paraphernalia. So if a police officer should notice a syringe in your vehicle, you might be cited for possessing illegal paraphernalia.

According to state law, syringes cannot be distributed by people other than a select group of people in the health care industry. These include people who are licensed pharmacists or pharmacy interns or externs as defined by law. Alternatively, a person distributing needles or syringes has to be someone who is licensed to dispense medication. Otherwise, the law criminalizes various methods of distribution, such as selling, lending, renting, giving out or exchanging needles or syringes.

However, there are legitimate reasons to having a syringe or needle. The law states that a person may offer up an affirmative defense that the needle was marketed for a “legitimate medical purpose.” In other words, the needle or syringe was needed to treat a medical condition like diabetes. As explained by FindLaw, syringe use is not illegal if a person has a prescription for an injectable drug and for the syringe itself.

Additionally, the state of Georgia modified its laws recently so that syringes and needles could be distributed as part of an exchange program. This provides another legal rationale for a person to have a syringe or needle. These defenses are something to keep in mind in the event Georgia law enforcement has questions about a syringe in your possession. You may also need to ask professional legal counsel for assistance.