In a last-minute compromise, Kentucky lawmakers took a strong, collective step toward combating the heroin epidemic that kills hundreds each year and puts countless others in danger. The Kentucky House of Representatives voted 100-0 in favor of Senate Bill 216, while the Senate voted 34-4 in favor.
The most debated part of the bill was approval of local needle exchanges, which would be funded through tax dollars. Opponents in the Senate, who voted after the House unanimously approved the bill, said needle exchanges would further enable heroin users and make the overall problem worse. Supporters said needle exchanges will keep used needles out of public areas, and lessen the risk of infection to those who do not use drugs. They also pointed to studies that claim needle exchanges curb the spread of diseases like Hepatitis C and AIDS.
SB 216 also calls for tougher punishment for convicted large-scale traffickers. They are dealers carrying at least 60 grams of heroin. They would have to serve at least half their sentences before any possibility of parole.
Labels: AIDS, epidemic, hepatitis C, heroin epidemic, Kentucky, needle exchange, Public Safety, U.S.A