A Republican lawmaker from southeast Missouri has filed needle exchange legislation, saying addiction must be viewed differently.
State Rep. Holly Rehder (R-Sikeston) describes her bill as a common-sense approach to addiction.
“We have the spread of disease, Hep C of course is wildly expensive on the state, not to mention what it does to people’s health,” says Rehder. “And is hugely contagious. And then we have HIV of course.”
Needle exchange programs ensure that drug users have access to clean needles to prevent the spread of diseases like HIV.
“Needle exchanges have been shown across the country to lower the cases of HIV and Hep C,” Rehder says. “And so this is something that along these same lines that Missouri needs to get on-board. There’s federal dollars available for needle exchanges.”
Rehder spoke openly to Missourinet about drugs.
“And I think with addiction, and that’s one of the things that I’ve been very up-front about, you know, that I grew up in drug addiction. And my daughter wasn’t around it, but yet at 17 she became an addict,” Rehder says.
Rehder’s House Bill 88 would exempt any entity registered with the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services that possesses hypodermic needles from state law prohibiting drug paraphernalia.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website says people who inject drugs “can substantially reduce their risk” of getting HIV and hepatitis by using a sterile needle and syringe for every injection. Supporters of the legislation say it can help people get treatment.
Missouri’s 2017 legislative session begins January 4 at noon.