TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- A Florida House panel has unanimously cleared a bill that would legalize syringe and needle exchanges in Miami-Dade County.
The bill (HB 735) was approved Wednesday by the Health Quality subcommittee on a 12-0 vote. The Senate version (SB 808) on file still has language creating statewide exchanges.
The proposal would allow the creation of a pilot program in which drug users can exchange used IV needles and syringes for clean ones. The idea is that such exchanges help prevent the spread of HIV and other illnesses. They are currently illegal under Florida law.
The exchange would be run by the state's Department of Health. The plan also would require the department to distribute educational materials and offer HIV counseling and testing.