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OC needle exchange program approved by state health officials despite local protest




A doctor at the University of Miami holds needles on November 30, 2016, that will be given away to addicts at a new syringe exchange program.
A doctor at the University of Miami holds needles on November 30, 2016, that will be given away to addicts at a new syringe exchange program.
KERRY SHERIDAN/AFP/Getty Images

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The California Department of Public Health has approved on Monday the operation of a mobile needle-exchange program in four Orange County cities.

State officials gave the green light to let the Orange County Needle Exchange Program operate for two years starting Monday, Aug. 6. But local lawmakers in Anaheim, Costa Mesa, Orange and Santa Ana are not welcoming the move.

Supporters argue the program is meant to provide clean needles that would prevent the spread of diseases like HIV and hepatitis C. But opponents say that needle exchange programs jeopardize the health and safety of people living in the community. Meanwhile, the Orange County Board of Supervisors will hold an emergency meeting on Friday regarding possible litigation in order to halt the mobile needle giveaway program.

Guests:

Alicia Robinson, reporter for the Orange County Register, who has been reporting on the mobile exchange program

Laura Thomas, acting director of the California chapter of the Drug Policy Alliance, a drug law reform advocacy group

Andrew Do, chairman of the Orange County Board of Supervisors, representing the First District that includes the cities of Garden Grove, Santa Ana and Westminster, who has called for an emergency meeting for Friday regarding possible litigation in order to halt the mobile needle exchange program