Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Feds remove needle exchange funding ban; when will Texas get its act together?

Earlier this month Congress approved legislation that removed the federal funding ban on needle exchange programs. According to the San Francisco Chronicle (Dec. 18):
The federal ban, sponsored by the now-deceased Sen. Jesse Helms, R-N.C., was enacted by Congress in 1988 and has been renewed annually.

Supporters of the prohibition said needle exchanges encourage the use of dangerous drugs. Robert Martinez, chief of drug policy under President George H.W. Bush, said government funding for clean needles "undercuts the credibility of society's message that drug use is illegal and morally wrong."

In 2000, however, Bush's surgeon general, David Satcher, said scientists had found that needle-exchange programs were effective and did not encourage drug use. A 1997 study said HIV infection rates had dropped by 5.8 percent in 29 cities around the world with the programs, and increased by 5.9 percent in 52 cities without them.

Obama has sent a mixed message on needle programs. He endorsed federal funding as a presidential candidate, but his proposed 2009-10 budget continued the funding ban, even as his drug czar, Gil Kerlikowske, was supporting needle exchanges at his confirmation hearing.

House Democratic leaders waged a low-key campaign to repeal the ban this year. A Republican proposal to continue the funding prohibition was defeated on the House floor in July on a 218-211 vote, mostly along party lines.
Texas still has no legal, functioning needle exchange program, despite legislative approval of a pilot in San Antonio in 2007. Bexar County District Attorney Susan Reed threatened to prosecute volunteers participating in needle exchange programs, despite the clear intent of legislators to allow the SA pilot. Then in 2009, legislation to legalize needle exchange statewide (with a local opt-in) appeared to be sailing toward passage until the end-of-session meltdown over voter ID killed it along with hundreds of other unrelated bills.

State Sen. Bob Deuell, a Republican medical doctor from Northeast Texas, has lately made passing a needle exchange bill one of his top priorities. Perhaps the decision to free up federal money will be the final impetus needed to push his legislation over the hump in 2011.


Anonymous said...

Needle exchange is one of many harm reduction policies that could and should be implemented. If the Feds are OK with it perhaps Susan Reed will allow it's implementation in Bexar County.

Anonymous said...

Super. Perhaps Harris County can get behind this. When officers begin issuing a ticket to those drug idiots with a crack pipe, they can give them a needle and suggest that they switch over to injection. Maybe Grits could reach down deep into his liberalness and write up a pamphlet for officers to give out, explaining how it really is better for the drug idiot to pay a fine and start using a needle.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

HPD can write their own pamphlets, 10:04, but if you'll reveal yourself I'll be happy to provide you with vocabulary lessons, including all the gramatically correct variations on the term "liberal" which seem to routinely escape you.

By the time you start calling Bob Deuell a "liberal," btw (and in Texas it's his bill, after all), the word has lost all meaning.

Anonymous said...


That anonymous guy follows you around, Scott, like some talkative evil spirit of some kind!

He should just go by "evil spirit".



Anonymous said...

It's not just the Anonymous posters here that make lame posts. There's one common and named poster that makes asinine posts in almost every blog post.

By the way Grits, did you edit your 10:16 post? I could have sworn it was much harsher than it reads now.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

RE: "did you edit your 10:16 post? I could have sworn it was much harsher"

You're probably remembering this one.

As for the rest, get a life. Content-free name calling wastes everybody's time, including yours.

Anonymous said...

Provide all these users with a passport, free of charge, and allow them to go to Juarez to get their druggy needs properly fulfilled. No more problem.

Anonymous said...

As long as drug abusers are pampered by society they will continue to abuse drugs. Offering these people an easier way to get drugs only encourages them to continue their lifestyle. At some point people have to take personal responsibility. The handouts and handeling with baby gloves needs to stop. If you child steals cars do you help him to do it better?

Anonymous said...

Apparently the anons that have commented on this post are unaware that addicts aren't exactly waiting around to see if a needle exchange bill gets passed in order to use.

Because they are addicts, they will find a way, even if it means taking a chance on using a dirty needle and getting AIDS.

Because it is an addiction rather than a "lifestyle choice" addicts do really self-destructive things that most people would never do. Even the addict often cannot believe that the disease has led them to do these things.

So, consequences are bountiful for an addict; jail, prison, bad family relationships, poor health, sometimes death, loss of all worldly possessions, and possibly insanity. And then there is the incomprehensible demoralization.

So, take heart anons - it's only a clean needle. The living hell that addiction is will continue for the addict. I assure you they will suffer.

Happy Holidays!

Anonymous said...

So 307, your moral is ...society should give them herion, MJ, whatever, since they can't help themselves? Are you related to the fireman that throws gas on a house on fire?

Anonymous said...

Your comment 6:28 unfortunately shows your lack of understanding both to my comment and to the problem of addiction.

I did not and the blog post did not mention anything about furnishing drugs to anyone, only needle exchange.

Whether you like it or not, agree with it or not, wish it were not so or not, addiction exists. It is not conservative or liberal in ideology. It doesn't care what socio-economic group you belong too. It doesn't even care what god you happen to pray too. It just is.

It is a disease that centers in two almond-sized portions of the brain, just above the ears, called the amygdule. It is impersonal. It doesn't care who or what it effects in your world.

I happen to suffer from that disease. And yes, I have a responsibility to maintain my disease so I won't die from it just like someone who has cancer or diabetes. For me that means not using.

But it took a while for me to get where I am and I didn't get there alone, nobody does. I'm fortunate that I don't have AIDS as a byproduct of my disease. I know people that do. They take responsibility for that. Nobody made them stick a needle in their arm.

But if you had the power to stop that piece of the devastation from happening, why would you not? It’s only a needle. But it could mean the difference between someone having some hope of a life after they have been fortunate enough to have gotten off of drugs.

Anonymous said...

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Best wishes
Alice Tudes