BANGOR – After hearing that a group has been holding Friday afternoon pop-up needle exchanges for drug users near Pickering Square in downtown Bangor, city officials are asking the group to get a permit.
Needlepoint Sanctuary Bangor has been handing out Narcan and clean needles and they take used needles to the Health Equity Alliance in Bangor, a DHHS-certified needle exchange site on Hancock Street.
“The city works with a variety of community groups who try outreach to different populations with different issues, and certainly we try to work very hard to work with those groups to get them set up in a safe, legal manner through our event permitting process,” Tracy Willette, Bangor Parks and Recreation director, said Wednesday. “So in this scenario, it would be no different.”
Maine law prohibits possession of 11 or more needles unless prescribed or the person is enrolled in a sterile needle exchange program with the state.
“If the needle exchange is not certified by the state, regardless of the organization, then indeed it becomes illegal,” Willette said. “So, we need to address any illegal activity.”
Willette said the city is not trying to shut down the practice, just ensure that it is conducted in the appropriate areas of the community.