A Kentucky Senate committee has begun debating a House-passed bill addressing Kentucky’s heroin abuse problem.
One point of contention between the House and Senate proposal is a provision that would allow local health districts to set up needle exchange program.
Senator Wil Schroder said that would make it harder for law enforcement to identify drug paraphernalia.
But Van Ingram, the Executive Director for the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy, argued that needle exchanges are an important first point of contact between addicts and those who can help them.
“It starts to get a public health connection with someone who has checked out of the public health system," said Ingram. "And say: ‘Here’s your clean needles, I noticed you’ve got an abscess on your arm, I can help you with that. If you’re concerned about Hepatitis C, we can get you tested.'"
The House and Senate are also at odds over how to prosecute heroin traffickers.