Louisville needle exchange program passed by Public Safety Commi - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Louisville needle exchange program passed by Public Safety Committee

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Louisville Metro Council members predicted that a needle exchange program for drug users would be operational by June after legislation advanced at City Hall on Tuesday.

The council's Public Safety Committee unanimously approved the ordinance, which allows the health department to establish and operate a needle exchange.

Three Democratic state lawmakers who helped push an anti-heroin bill through the General Assembly this year spoke in support of the ordinance. One of the heroin law's provisions allows local governments to set up needle exchanges, which are aimed at reducing diseases like HIV/AIDS.

"Drug users are five times more likely to enter treatment when they encounter a needle exchange program," said Rep. John Tilley, the Democrat who leads the House Judiciary Committee. "It does not increase drug use."

Medical professionals and Louisville Metro Police Department Chief Steve Conrad also said they favored the needle exchange legislation. Conrad said three of his officers have been stuck by needles this year.

[PREVIOUS STORY: Metro Council Democrats file needle exchange ordinance]

The full council will likely vote on the issue Thursday.

Metro Public Health and Wellness officials are working to establish regulations for the program and said last week they expected to finalize details by the summer.

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