Needles and a spoon lay heaped together on a Portland street.

Police have threatened to arrest the founder of a Maine group called the Church of Safe Injection for distributing sterile needles during a needle exchange.

The Sun Journal reports Auburn police told Jesse Harvey he would face a misdemeanor charge if he exchanged needles without proper certification at the event held Tuesday at First Universalist Church.

Harvey responded in an email saying the group was “called on by a higher authority to do the work that we do.”

No one attended the event, which had a police presence on site.

Harvey said his program is protected under a legal gray area that allows for “secondary exchange” needle programs under state law.

Harvey said he doesn’t blame police for doing their jobs. He said “syringes should not be criminalized.”