MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Gov. Jim Justice said early this week that he will likely sign the bill to license and regulate needle exchange programs – SB 334. The executive director of Milan Puskar Health Right told The Dominion Post the bill could harm its Morgantown-based program, which was frequently called one of the state’s best during legislative testimony.
Referring to the bill’s tortuous journey on Saturday, the last day of the session, Health Right Executive Director Laura Jones said, “It went from a horrible to an almost decent bill to a fairly horrible bill again.”
One of its good points, Jones said, is that it provides legal immunity for staff and clients who may be returning, transporting or handling used syringes that might contain drug residue. That’s needed to encourage people to bring their syringes back rather than leave them somewhere or toss them out a window.
It also commendably calls for HIV and hepatitis screenings, she said.
But then come the problems. “The issue of requiring an ID is a huge problem. People are very fearful and nervous about coming to a syringe access program in the first place.” …