Join medical and public health professionals in supporting paraphernalia decriminalization

Senate President Bill Ferguson

Now (again) life-saving legislation to decriminalize paraphernalia is in the hands of the Senate, namely Senate President Bill Ferguson.

We know Senate President Ferguson has been moved by public health and science experts. We need you and your colleagues and peers to sign this letter today. Please sign and share out via personal asks to folks in medical, clinical and public health positions. This petition will close on Thursday, March 24 at 12:00pm EST. Sign today!

Sponsored by

To: Senate President Bill Ferguson
From: [Your Name]

On Thursday March 10, Maryland's House passed HB481 to decriminalize paraphernalia, and soon this proposed policy will again be in your hands.

We are a group of concerned medical professionals and public health experts who care deeply about the health and wellbeing of all Maryland residents. Through our professional experience, we know how crucial decriminalizing paraphernalia is for the health and safety of people who use drugs.

We are urging you to bring HB481 for a Senate floor vote before April 1, 2022. We are confident that there are enough Senators ready and willing to both vote in favor of this essential piece of life-saving legislation and override a potential veto from Governor Hogan.

This bill will help curb the growing numbers of people suffering in the shadows, dying from overdoses, and being harmed by preventable infections related to injecting drugs.

Removing criminal penalties for paraphernalia for personal use increases legal access to sterile equipment which reduces the transmission of infectious diseases and risk of overdose. This in turn saves lives and money.

The science is clear.

- Every scientific and medical organization to study the issue has concluded that access to drug use tools, including sterile syringes, reduces the spread of HIV, hepatitis, other blood-borne diseases, and soft tissue and skin infections.

- Studies of Canadian programs to distribute safer smoking kits found they significantly reduced risky behaviors like supply sharing that spread MRSA, HIV, Hepatitis B and HCV.

- Access to sterile supplies is associated with increased treatment uptake. Programs that distribute these supplies provide a bridge to treatment, medical care, and other services for drug users. Furthermore, evidence has shown that when there is less fear of punishment or arrest by police, individuals feel safer accessing treatment services.

This legislation will help ensure Marylanders continue to have access to life-saving services on their road to greater wellness and not be derailed by traumatizing arrests, police interactions, and jail time for possessing the tools they need.

Thank you for your attention to this critical matter.


New York Academy of Medicine. New York State Expanded Syringe Access Demonstration Program Evaluation. January 15, 2003.
National Institutes of Health Consensus Panel, Interventions to Prevent HIV Risk Behaviors (Kensington, MD: National Institutes of Health Consensus Program Information Center, February 1997).
P. Lurie, A.L. Reingold, B. Bowser (eds). The Public Health Impact of Needle Exchange Programs in the United States and Abroad: Summary, Conclusions and Recommendations (1993).
Maryland Board of Pharmacy News. Fall 2017.
Australian Commonwealth Department of Health and Aging. Return on Investment in Needle and Syringe Programs in Australia
Schackman, Bruce R., et al. The Lifetime Cost of Current Human Immunodeficiency Virus Care in the United States. Medical Care. 44 (11):990-997 (2006).
Winnipeg Regional Health Authority, Population and Public Health Program. Safer Crack Use Kit Distribution in the Winnipeg Health Region. October 2012.