MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The state Senate approved Tuesday a bill to regulate needle exchange programs across the state. The bill faced strong opposition from physicians and public health officials during committee deliberations but passed overwhelmingly on the Senate floor, along mostly party lines.
SB 334 would require any needle exchange program to be licensed by the Office for Health Facility Licensure and Certification. An applicant would have to supply specific descriptions of services and plans for referrals to the varieties of care intravenous drug users require.
Programs must set a goal of a one-for-one exchange of needles distributed and returned. A provision eliminated in committee was restored on the floor. It requires a county sheriff to write a letter of recommendation for a program. That recommendation can later be withdrawn, giving a sheriff unilateral power to close a program.
Sen. Eric Tarr, R-Putnam and lead sponsor, offered an amendment to the bill adding more restrictions, explaining again that he introduced the bill to curb the needle litter problem that poses a danger to the communities hosting the programs…