CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The West Virginia Senate Health Committee on Tuesday passed along an amended version of a bill experts say would gut harm reduction in the state.
Senate Bill 334 would establish a licensing program for harm reduction programs operating syringe exchanges. As amended by the committee, syringe exchange programs would need majority support from the county commission to operate. The goal would be 1:1 distribution and syringes would need to be able to be tracked by the administrating body. The committee removed criminal penalties for operating outside the parameters of the bill and funding restrictions.
Even as amended, those against the bill say when paired with Senate Bill 12 — which checks the powers of county boards of health — it will greatly hinder current and future syringe exchange programs.
“We are going to have a jump in HIV and we are going to be responsible for it,” said Sen. Ron Stollings, D-Boone, a physician. “… I took the Hippocratic Oath to do no harm, and this will harm the people of West Virginia.” …