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Charleston city council passes needle exchange ordinance

Council member Ben Adams, who proposed part of the amendment, says the ordinance will work as a...
Council member Ben Adams, who proposed part of the amendment, says the ordinance will work as a “stop-gap” so there is some type of licensure process in place until the state’s law goes into effect.(wsaz)
Published: Apr. 20, 2021 at 1:45 AM EDT
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - The Charleston City council passed an ordinance Monday that would require needle exchange programs to obtain a certification through the Department of Health and Human Resources.

During the last city council meeting, council member Ben Adams proposed holding off on voting on the ordinance for the city to see what state lawmakers did with their needle exchange program bill.

Over the last week, lawmakers have passed and Governor Jim Justice has signed, Senate Bill 334 which would regulate needle exchange programs in the State of West Virginia.

During Monday’s council meeting, the council voted in an ordinance that looked slightly different from the Charleston Public Safety Committee’s version of the bill.

The ordinance will now require any facility wishing to operate a needle exchange program to have a license through the DHHR. Programs must also have a “goal” of a one-for-one needle exchange model, where at least 90% of the needles distributed must be returned before distributing more. The new ordinance will also make any facility wishing to open a needle exchange program to require a public hearing for the community. The ordinance requires every syringe to be labeled in order to trace them back to the facility in which they were distributed, as well.

Council member Ben Adams, who proposed part of the amendment, says the ordinance will work as a “stop-gap” so there is some type of licensure process in place until the state’s law goes into effect.

The ordinance will go into effect in five days.

The state’s law will go into effect in July. However, the state is giving programs until January 1, 2022 to ensure they have all requirements fulfilled.

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