- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 22, 2015

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - Charleston City Council has taken a step toward establishing a needle exchange program.

Multiple media outlets report that council members approved an ordinance on Monday decriminalizing possession of hypodermic syringes and needles. The ordinance also allows distribution of needles and syringes that are part of a needle exchange program, so long as such a program is approved or sponsored by the city’s police chief.

Dr. Michael Brumage with the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department says the ordinance opens a path to begin a needle exchange program.

Such programs allow intravenous drug users to exchange used needles for clean ones.

Last week, the Wheeling-Ohio County Board of Health voted to establish a county-operated needle exchange program. Cabell County launched the state’s first program earlier this month.

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