Pubdate: Tue, 23 Jun 2015
Source: State Journal, The (KY)
Copyright: 2015 The State Journal
Bookmark: (Needle Exchange)
Author: Brad Bowman


Stivers Argues Exchange Provision Wasn't Meant to Allow Program As 
Needle Dispensary

Senate President Robert Stivers has requested an opinion from 
Attorney General Jack Conway on whether Louisville's needle exchange 
program overreaches the authority granted in the contentious heroin 
bill passed in the last legislative session.

During the numerous conference committee meetings about the heroin 
bill, the proposal for a local-option needle exchange program didn't 
set well with conservative legislators who believed the program would 
only condone more drug use.

One of those legislators was President Stivers who said in a released 
statement "the exchange provision was part of a compromise, and it 
was our expectation that it would be an actual exchange, not a new 
distribution point for needles."

In establishing a needle exchange program, many local governments 
have used a guidance statement from the Kentucky Public Health 
Department with three models: a "one for one" where a used needle is 
exchanged for a clean one; a "one for one plus" in which a dirty 
needle could be exchanged for additional clean needles; and a "needs 
based negotiation" which doesn't require the exchange of any dirty 
needles for clean ones.

The Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness 
oversees the needle exchange program and has in its guidelines 
"syringes will be made available regardless of whether the 
participant has needles to exchange. However, participants will be 
strongly encouraged to return their used syringes."

Stivers argues the legality of the exchange program.

Specifically, under the heroin bill's mechanism for allowing a needle 
exchange program the bill's language in the drug paraphernalia 
statute states "this section shall not prohibit a local health 
department from operating a substance abuse treatment outreach 
program which allows participants to exchange hypodermic needles and syringes."

In its program, the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and 
Wellness stated that in the metro area some 9,300 HIV cases had been 
documented in Kentucky and 45 percent of them were Jefferson County 
residents making the metro area the greatest concentration of HIV in 
the state as of June 2014.

The State Journal is waiting on a formal response from the Louisville 
Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness.

More on the story is coming soon.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom