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California Needle Exchange Program Operates Illegally


A needle exchange program in Fresno, California, is continuing to run after county supervisors decided not to legalize the operation.

Fresno County supervisors recently said they would not legalize the program, which has been running for 15 years, according to the Los Angeles Times. In 2008, the Fresno supervisors said they supported a plan to legalize the program, which currently runs out of a bus. The new vote reversed that decision.

The Fresno program exchanges up to 10,000 needles a week.

Two state bills awaiting Governor Jerry Brown’s signature could allow the Fresno program to continue legally, the newspaper reports. Under one bill, doctors, pharmacists and workers at approved programs could provide a restricted number of syringes without a prescription. A second bill would allow the state’s Department of Public Health to permit needle exchange programs when they believe there is a public health danger.

A study published in April found a government-sanctioned facility in Canada that medically supervises the injection of illegal drugs has reduced fatal overdoses. The facility, called Insite, provides clean needles to heroin and cocaine users, who inject themselves with their own drugs while they are supervised by a nurse. The study found that Insite reduced drug overdose deaths by 35 percent in a neighborhood that has one of Canada’s highest rates of drug addiction.

3 Responses to this article

  1. Avatar of Jim
    Jim / October 4, 2012 at 4:41 am

    So many people, are such fools, by giving clean sterile needles out to people who would inherently use dirty ones, and possible catch a disease or spread a disease to another person, is much safer from the community, and for the individuals who have drug problems. They should be offered help to get off of drugs, which they are as ,well, but if somebody is going to use the drugs anyway they might as well do it the safest way possible. So anyone who says that they are enabling drug addicts, that is very ignorant thinking. If someone is willing to give their own time, and or resources to go out and hand out clean needles, then the government or anyone else should just let them go about their own business. It cost a lot more for someone who doesn’t have any insurance to go into the hospital to get treated to hiv or aids or hepatitis because they are sharing or using dirty needles.

  2. Fred C / September 21, 2011 at 12:42 pm

    Your comment shows a complete lack of understanding of the purpose of needle exchange. It was never intended to get people into programs but to get dirty needles off the street and replace them with clean ones so that HIV and Hep C do not spread as fast. Yes, we all know that the problem is getting worse and some cities have more problems than others. However, needle exchange programs have admitted that some people are going to shoot up no matter what needle is available, and they are just trying to reduce the spread of serious diseases. May God grant that if ever my or your children ever decide to try such a drug that there is at least a clean needle available. Governments that move to shut down harm reduction programs should be honest enough to admit that they are just doing it for the money savings and to hell with humanity.

  3. john / September 20, 2011 at 3:55 pm

    When needle exchange program’s started one of the main goals was to get individual to treatment. Treatment has pretty much been kicked out as a goal now. What I would like to see as a stat the come out of these programs is how many indivduals were referred into treatment. God knows they have never reduced HIV or Hep C infections, and drug use only go up also. Just look at Vancouver Can. numbers, this is one of the oldest needle exchange program and the city has some of the highest drug use rates also along with HIV and Hep C infections.

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