CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – After hours of debate, late last night, the Charleston City Council passed new, stricter regulations on needle exchange programs. These regulations come as Kanawha County deals with a big spike in HIV cases tied to intravenous drug use.
Starting Saturday, needle exchange programs will have to abide by some new rules.
“It requires programs operating syringe service programs in the city to either have a license from the state of West Virginia or be certified by the state of West Virginia,” Kevin Baker, Charleston City Attorney said.
Along with the passage of the bill, there were several amendments. One deals with cutting back on needle littering in the city.
“So, we went back in and added an amendment that says any facility or program that dispensing needles has to label the needles to that facility or to that program,” Shannon Snodgrass, City Council Member said.
The bill also states programs must 90% return of needles before they get more needles to ensure accountability.
“Over the past two years in the state of WV, there’s been almost one million needles not returned. That means they’re out here in the public,” Snodgrass said.
If people want to start a new program, they have more options to get certified.
“The state currently certifies programs through the bureau of public health and then with the law that passed in the legislature recently they will have a new licensing program at the end of this year and the beginning of next year,” Baker said.
In the future, if an entity wants to start a program this bill would require them to hold a public hearing to notify the neighbors around the area and hold a public hearing and public input process.