Lawmakers Pushing To Block Needle-Exchange Program In Orange County

The Costa Mesa City County, alongside the Orange Board of Supervisors agreed in separate special meetings on the 3rd of August to move forward with a lawsuit, one that’ll put the kibosh on the needle-exchange service recently greenlighted by the state for Costa Mesa and three other Orange County cities.

Following the special meeting, the Costa Mesa council members issued an urgency ordinance that declared the Orange County Needle Exchange Program. According to them, which is problematic thanks to the proximity of some of the California Rehab Center to schools, and senior-living facilities.

Since learning of the proposal earlier in 2018, Costa Mesa city staff, law enforcements and council members were unanimously opposing the program, saying that the program could attract drug users to local communities, put the recovery of residents already in a California Rehab Center, as well as posing safety threat and spread around discarded syringes.

A board member for the needle exchange refused to comment on the matter. The Monday, July 30 , the California Department of Public Health approved the program, allowing the distribution needles and other supplies across Costa Mesa, Anaheim, Orange and Santa Ana, effective for two years. Supporters of such programs say that this provide clean needles and prevent the spread of diseases among intravenous drug users.

The Department of Public Health Director Karen Smith says that there was a public health need for such services due to the risk of transmitting diseases like HIV and Hepatitis C among people who inject drugs across Orange County. She says that the department had identified the area as one of the California counties most vulnerable to the spread of injection drug-use-related infections.

Critics of the proposal, however, fired back, saying that Costa Mesa is a bad location thanks to its close proximity to residential, corporate and education facilities, like Whittier Elementary School, with the state decision leading to many of the affected communities sending their representatives scrambling to stop the program.

County Supervisor Andrew Do says that they’ve worked hard to clean up their streets, which included helping the homeless; they have succeeded in significant part of the county. He says that the problem is that the needle-exchange program would jeopardize that, and that’s why they’re fighting back against the program.

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