Needle Exchange Bill Hits DeSantis’ Desk

Jun 14, 2019

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday received a bill that would authorize needle-exchange programs across the state. 

Lawmakers in 2016 approved allowing the University of Miami to establish a pilot program in Miami-Dade County, and the bill (SB 366) would allow county commissions in other parts of the state to approve similar initiatives to try to stop the spread of diseases by intravenous drug users.

A disagreement emerged during this spring’s legislative session about whether counties should be able to use tax dollars to fund the programs. The House balked at the use of tax dollars, and lawmakers ultimately did not allow the use of state or county money to help fund the programs, which could receive private money.

While a big part of the reason for the Miami-Dade program was the reduction of HIV and AIDS cases, medical-school volunteers say it also has played a vital role in combating the opioid crisis and has helped reverse 1,100 opioid overdoses with the drug Narcan. DeSantis will have 15 days to sign the bill, allow it to become law without his signature or veto it.