The highest court in Massachusetts has ruled that privately-run hypodermic needle exchange programs can be operated without state or community approval.
The Supreme Judicial Court in its ruling Wednesday said the nonprofit AIDS Support Group of Cape Cod is allowed to operate in the town of Barnstable.The organization since 2009 has been providing clean syringes to stem the spread of HIV and hepatitis C.
The town in 2015 issued a cease-and-desist order saying the organization needed board of health approval. The town made its own public health argument, saying discarded needles endanger the public.
The high court agreed with the nonprofit, which said a 2006 state law that decriminalized the possession and distribution of hypodermic needles overrode a 1993 law that required needle exchange programs to have state and municipal approval.