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Miami-Dade's chances of needle exchange program look better this year

The finish line is in sight for a coalition of medical students, healthcare professionals and state lawmakers seeking to create a needle exchange program in Miami-Dade County.  Sc_wide_needle-20130621094453694240-620x349

The group was unable to persuade the Legislature last year to allow the controversial pilot program, through which intravenous drug users could swap used needles for clean ones. Needle exchange programs are prohibited under Florida law.

But this year, similar proposals have sailed through committee votes and are ready to be heard on the House and Senate floor.

“It’s just a matter of whether leadership puts it on the calendar,” said Rep. Mark Pafford, D-West Palm Beach, who is sponsoring the bill in the House.

That isn’t a guarantee. During the final two weeks of the session, scores of bills will be competing for coveted calendar spots.

The lawmakers who control the calendars — Sen. John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, and Rep. Rob Schenck, R-Spring Hill — did not return calls seeking comment Thursday.

The proposals (SB 408 and HB 491) would empower the state Department of Health to launch the pilot program in Miami-Dade. The department would also provide drug treatment referrals, HIV testing and counseling services. Read more.  

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