Thirteen states and the Virgin Islands impose some form of syringe prescription requirement by statute. Pennsylvania requires a prescription by regulation. The requirement stands as a substantial barrier to syringe access in only seven of these jurisdictions: California, Delaware, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and the Virgin Islands. In Florida and Virginia, a prescription is required only for minors.42 In Nevada, a prescription is not required for syringes to be used for asthma, diabetes or other medical conditions;43 these exceptions, in combination with a favorable view of syringe sales from the pharmacy board, has reportedly led to reasonably liberal syringe access in the state. The remaining four prescription-law states – Connecticut, New Hampshire, New York, and Maine – have partially deregulated syringes and now allow non-prescription sale and possession of syringes in limited numbers.
Other types of restriction on the sale of syringes appear in state law, usually but not always within the Pharmacy Code. Twenty-two states allow only pharmacies to sell syringes. Nine require the seller to determine, or the buyer to produce information about, the use to which the syringe will be put. Fifteen require records of some type to be kept. Eleven require the buyer to show identification. Finally, eleven states specify limits on the display of syringes in retail establishments, normally requiring that they be kept behind the counter. These sub-prescription limits on syringe sales are most often (but
not always) found in state pharmacy laws and regulations, and are therefore usually referred to as “pharmacy regulations.”
The District of Columbia and every jurisdiction studied except Alaska and Puerto Rico have drug paraphernalia laws. In the majority of states, this list includes “[h]ypodermic syringes, needles, and other objects used, intended for use, and designed for use in parenterally injecting controlled substances into the human body.”48 Under this definition, the status of any item as paraphernalia depends not just on the characteristics of the item itself but also the intention or acts of the defendant. To commit a crime, the seller must not only transfer possession of the syringe, but must do so knowing of the intended drug-related use.
Only Rhode Island, New Mexico, Hawaii and Washington have unrestricted pharmacy sales.