Angie insisted her syringes were stolen.
Undeterred by what many would consider a weak demand for a drug user's tossed needles, she stuck by her story.
"I buried my red (syringe) box in the park and when I went back, somebody had stolen it," she said.
Angie, who injects cocaine multiple times a day, didn't hold up her end of the syringe-exchange bargain. Nevertheless, she got what she came for: a supply of clean, new syringes and a box for her used ones, free and completely illegal, from the Underground Syringe Exchange of Denver.
For more than a year, USED has been clandestinely conducting transactions its organizers say Colorado ought to bring into the open: syringe swaps meant to keep infection rates down by providing drug users with new syringes while taking used needles off the street.
Although 185 cities, including Boulder, now condone exchanges, that's not going to happen statewide in Colorado anytime soon. A legislative push this year to make legal exchanges possible was dead before arrival in the statehouse.
"The issue is more complex than it perhaps first appears," said Evan Dreyer, Gov. Bill Ritter's spokesman. "In fact, as they began to look at this proposal, law enforcement and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment both expressed serious reservations."
In any case, a coalition of public-health officials, treatment providers, advocates and a city commission have gingerly set their sights on Denver.
Nancy Steinfurth, executive director of the Hep C Connection, said her organization favors exchanges. An estimated 70 percent of hepatitis C cases and 10 percent of HIV infections come from sharing needles.