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.