Council Scheduled To Vote On Budget Adjustment On Jan. 8th.

It would go toward setting up a local syringe services program.

 

Frederick, Md (KM). The Frederick County Council is scheduled to vote on Tuesday, January 8th on whether to accept a $29,092 state grant to go toward a local needle exchange program. If it’s approved, the money will be used by the Health Department to purchase a van that will take the syringe services program¬† throughout the county.

The Council was expected¬† to vote on whether to accept the grant on Tuesday, December 18th, but members agreed to Councilman Phil Dacey’s request to postpone the vote until he’s had a chance to do more research on it.

Under a needle exchange program. addicts would exchange their dirty needle for clean ones. Opponents of syringe services say it will only encourage addicts to continue shooting up. But supporters say the data shows there’s no increase in drug use in communities that have syringe services programs, and most of the people who participate also get involved in treatment programs.

Councilman Steve McKay says he understands the arguments on both sides of the issue. “That’s the debate: you’re facilitating addiction or you’re also trying to mitigate diseases that can be a byproduct of addiction and abuse. And how do you balance those two things,” he says.

But he notes this is a big problem in the community. “It’s not going to go away,” says McKay. “A host of other problems crop up–crime, disease–if you do just try to ignore it. So you can’t ignore it.”

The Frederick County Health Department received a $23,000 grant from the Maryland Health Department to conduct a feasibility study on setting up a local syringe services program. Local health officials have been holding meetings with large and small audiences around Frederick County, explaining these types of programs to citizens. They say there’s strong support for a local syringe services program.

 

By Kevin McManus