Regarding the July 1 news article “State lawmakers allow needle exchange programs”:
North Carolina legislators and communities should fully support needle exchange programs. These programs provide safe spaces to get unused needles and to drop off used needles, free HIV/HEP C testing and educational services and various resources to help people who inject drugs access supportive services. Needle exchange programs provide services compassionately, without judgment, with a focus on public health and quality of life.
Unfortunately, paired with House Bill 972 is the mandate that police footage captured from body cameras is not public record and cannot be easily accessed by residents. In the wake of a wave of police brutality in our country and a call for police reform and transparency, it is important to remember how society’s most marginalized populations have historically suffered from the unintended consequences of policies.
Yes, be proud syringe exchange programs will grow and save many more lives once officially legalized, but also remember the historical implications of America’s drug policies on our communities.
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Advocacy supervisor, The Western North Carolina AIDS Project