UPDATE: County, city divided over ending of needle exchange program

Published: Aug. 16, 2019 at 11:51 AM EDT
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Health officials in a West Virginia county have ended a needle exchange program aimed at decreasing the negative consequences of substance abuse.

The Harrison County Board of Health voted Tuesday night in Clarksburg to discontinue the exchange. The vote comes less than two weeks after the Clarksburg City Council approved an ordinance to regulate the program.

The city ordinance ordered those receiving needles to meet requirements that included submitting to blood tests and showing photo identification.

Board member Annette Wright is the city's representative on the board. She says the city received complaints that the program negatively impacted the downtown area.

Board member Ron Watson says the city should revise its ordinance to allow the program to continue.

The city of Clarksburg, West Virginia has given preliminary approval to an ordinance that would regulate a needle exchange run by the local health department.

The Clarksburg City Council voted unanimously Thursday to approve a first reading of the proposal, which would require those receiving needles to meet requirements that include submitting to blood tests and showing photo identification.

Health department administrator Chad Bundy said his agency has concerns with some of the ordinance's provisions including the photo ID requirement and limiting the program to Harrison County residents.

Mayor Ryan Kennedy said the needle-exchange program is "creating some negatives," and officials want to eliminate those "while still retaining some positives."

He said public comment will be considered, adding that there could be changes made to the ordinance before a final vote.

(Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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