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Lawmakers pass bill that would expand needle exchange program across Florida

Posted at 3:10 PM, Apr 29, 2019

MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. -- Florida lawmakers have passed a bill that allows for the expansion of needle exchange programs. Currently, Miami is the only area in the state with a legal needle exchange program.

Manatee County Health Services Manager Joshua Barnett applauded the legislature’s action.

"They can come in anonymously and bring in needles that they have been using, gets them off the street -- which is a public health issue -- but it also allows them to access information moving off drug use,” Barnett said.

He said it’s unclear who would run the program if one is established in Manatee County. Governor DeSantis still has to sign the legislation into law before a program could be created.

Gerri Stanhope said she see’s the program is a necessary evil.

“Because people are just going to use anyway,” Stanhope said.

She said her daughter was a drug abuser in the past.

"She got hepatitis C from sharing needles, she was treated and clean now,” Stanhope said.

The all could be signed into law in the coming weeks, depending if Governor DeSantis supports the legislation.