Participant Cards and Limited Immunity

The North Carolina syringe exchange law protects exchange employees, volunteers and participants from being charged with possession of syringes or other injection supplies, including those with residual amounts of controlled substances present, if obtained or returned to a syringe exchange program. This consideration was included to encourage the safe disposal of used syringes and injection supplies at syringe exchanges. Syringe exchanges provide legally protected access to syringes and injection supplies.  

Program employees, volunteers and participants must provide written verification (such as a participant card or other documentation), to the arresting officer or law enforcement agency to be granted limited immunity. If stopped and questioned, participants should show their card to the law enforcement officer(s).

The law does not specify format or required information for written verification; exchanges are encouraged to discuss format and included information with their participants and staff, as well as local law enforcement. Including information on the card (or other documentation) about the syringe exchange law is recommended. One exchange, for example, provides laminated cards to participants that include a photo and anonymous identification code, as well as a unique QR code for program monitoring and a reference to the syringe exchange law. It is strongly encouraged to include contact information for the issuing program in case of emergency or law enforcement inquiry.

Please see examples below and contact the Division of Public Health at SyringeExchangeNC@dhhs.nc.gov with any further questions.