Minnesota becomes first state to legalize all drug paraphernalia

Syringes and any small doses of drugs found inside will be legal in the state of Minnesota.
Published: May. 24, 2023 at 10:44 AM EDT
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DULUTH, Minn. (KBJR/Gray News) - Minnesota has become the first state to legalize all drug paraphernalia, KBJR reports.

“This is the first in the nation provision, and when I say first in the nation provision, it is the only law that legalizes all forms of drug paraphernalia,” said Edward Krumpotich, the Upper Midwest Policy Lead with the National Harm Reduction Coalition. “It also legalizes all drugs contained in that paraphernalia defined as residual drugs.”

Syringes and any small doses of drugs found inside will be legal in the state of Minnesota.

The public safety bill, signed by Gov. Tim Walz Friday, also legalized all forms of drug testing, allows syringe service providers to dispense sterile needles and removes caps on the number of syringes pharmacists can sell people without a prescription.

Harm reduction experts call the monumental law a new frontier of the war on drugs.

“I contracted HIV from a used syringe,” Krumpotich said. “I have been using methamphetamine since the age of 19. I was a high school history teacher.”

After his experience with dirty syringes, Krumpotich, who is now sober, turned to public policy, joining a harm reduction coalition to support this new legislation to send a new message of recovery and prevention.

“We have a large rise in infectious diseases,” he said. “Duluth, for example, had an HIV outbreak.”

He says that sharing syringes during drug injection use is a primary factor.

“Really, it started showing up again in 2019. It’s not a huge number, but in the past year it has gone up about 20%,” said Jenny Swanson, who sits on the board of directors with Harm Reduction Sisters.

Swanson said they take in over 20,000 used syringes each month.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, syringe service programs lower infectious diseases by 50%.

“If you visit a syringe program, you are five times more likely to enter drug treatment,” Krumpotich said. “That information is incontrovertible.”

Krumpotich said old policies kept people in the shadows, enabling drug use by not allowing providers access to them.

“As someone who used for a long time, my disease may not have happened if I had access to a syringe service provider,” Krumpotich said.

Advocates said this may be the first real step in facing Minnesota’s opioid crisis.

The new law goes into effect on Aug. 1.