July 7, 2015
Advocates are pushing for harm reduction programs such as needle exchanges as a replacement for public policies dealing with drug use.
“There has been a big change in how state legislators view overdose and view drug-related harm in general,” said Corey Davis, the deputy director of the National Health Law Program.
Some states have made new rules to overturn the criminalization of syringe possession and established needle exchange programs. The new laws are “a step in the right direction, but they are still pretty restrictive,” Davis said. “There are all these hoops that have to be jumped through.”
Legislation in Indiana involves law enforcement, county, state, municipal officials, and a public hearing.
“If it was truly a public health decision, it would just be a decision of the public health department,” Davis said. “It’s telling that there are only two counties that have initiated these programs, even though we have this clear evidence that there is an epidemic of HIV. Epidemics don’t follow county lines.”
Organizations mentioned/involved: National Health Law Program (NHeLP)