MINNEAPOLIS — As of Aug. 1, possession of drug paraphernalia will be legal in Minnesota, a move that advocates say will help people recover safely from addiction.
“What we’ve done here is we’ve created a circle of both giving paraphernalia and allowing people to come back to services without fear so we can reduce the infection so we can get people to treatment can bring,” said Edward Krumpotich, a harm reduction advocate.
The goal is for patients to get clean needles and supplies, form relationships, stop illness and eventually recover.
Krumpotich himself said he grew up in a loving family, but kept a secret that nearly destroyed him.
“I was a closeted gay man. It was like my soul was ripped out because I was living a lie,” he said. “My drug of choice is methamphetamine.”
He was once named high school teacher of the year in Maryland, but meth eventually took everything from him. Like many, he traveled to Minnesota on his long road to recovery. He battled his addiction in Minneapolis for about six years until a counselor changed his perspective and instead of cold-stopping meth, modified his use.
“One of my biggest victories in my substance abuse journey was moving from injection to smoking. And as I moved in that direction, I was about to find my long-term recovery,” Krumpotich added.
The harm reduction approach, Krumpotich said, helps people meet where they are.
“It helps keep the community safe while also keeping the individual safer,” he said.
Drug overdose is at an all-time high, as more than 1,200 people died of drug overdoses in Minnesota in 2021. The Centers for Disease Control says people who get clean needles are five times more likely to receive treatment. Krumpotich presented that fact to Minnesota lawmakers last session.
“We are a leader now, in the nation. In the nation. In harm reduction,” Krumpotich said. “We’re reducing drug use, we’re reducing crime, and we’re keeping people safe.”
Krumpotich is now safe and thriving with three jobs, a national platform and looking to reach new heights. Starting August 1, a handful of clinics in Minnesota will be offering clean supplies.