Law permitting counties to set up needle exchange programs goes into effect

Needle exchange
Officials from Palm Beach, Broward and Hillsborough counties say they'll consider starting an exchange.

Each of Florida’s 67 counties is now permitted to set up a needle exchange program per a new law that goes into effect on July 1.

That law (SB 366) was signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis on Thursday.

Democratic state Sen. Oscar Braynon II filed the bill that was eventually approved by both chambers. Reps. Shevrin Jones, a West Park Democrat, and Rene “Coach P” Plasencia, an Orlando Republican, formed a bipartisan team supporting the measure on the House side.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes the exchanges can prevent the spread of HIV and other diseases by ensuring addicts are using clean needles.

Florida has struggled with the spread of HIV and AIDS.

The state is the worst in the country in terms of the amount of HIV cases which progress to AIDS, according to Science. And Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando and Jacksonville are all among the top 10 U.S. cities when it comes to the per capita rate of new HIV diagnoses. Miami tops that list.

But in recent comments to the Urban League of Broward County, Braynon said the program does more than just protect addicts from disease.

“That’s just what it does on its face. But what it really is is it’s a touch point for us to get people in to get AIDS testing, hep C testing, and direct them to help,” Braynon said.

Addicts can also receive Narcan, which helps reverse overdoses and can prevent deaths.

A 2016 law set up a five-year needle exchange pilot program at the University of Miami. But that program was only allowed to operate in Miami-Dade County, and relied on private funding and grants due to a ban on the use of state or local funds.

Now, each county will be allowed to decide whether to begin a program of their own using local funds. The law keeps in place the ban on taxpayer funds being used, meaning counties would need to rely on private funds.

Palm Beach County officials have already signaled they would pass an ordinance setting up the second such program in the state. Officials from Broward, Hillsborough and Pinellas counties have shown interest in setting up an exchange as well.

To begin a needle exchange program with a county, local officials must also enter an agreement with the Department of Health and select a partner from a list of approved organizations to operate the program.

Eligible organizations include licensed hospitals, health care clinics, accredited medical schools, substance abuse treatment programs, or HIV/AIDS service organizations.

Ryan Nicol

Ryan Nicol covers news out of South Florida for Florida Politics. Ryan is a native Floridian who attended undergrad at Nova Southeastern University before moving on to law school at Florida State. After graduating with a law degree he moved into the news industry, working in TV News as a writer and producer, along with some freelance writing work. If you'd like to contact him, send an email to [email protected].

One comment

  • Lee Alderman

    July 5, 2019 at 12:10 pm

    This seems fine, but it’s not the job of government. What would be a government solution is making legal opioid medicine EASILY accessible to both pain and addiction sufferers in a fair market – the opposite of what is being done. Demonizing modern medicine using idiotic probabilism (bad statistics) as if tiny demons reside inside of substances is a bad explanation. Besides, even if 90% of them started with legal medicine, denying the medicine to people who benefit from using it would still be immoral.

    Properly done statistics (as well as probabilism can reach without good explanations behind it) say fewer than 1% become addicted using legal opioids for pain. People use them every day after surgery. Yet even journalists consistently parrot those phony statistics disseminated by recovery nonprofits claiming most heroin users started on legal pills. Sure, many of them STOLE legal pills, or went to pill mills. Anti-opioid zealots also ignore other substances when they lay blame and fail to accept responsibility themselves. Nonprofit cultists and politicians naturally blame doctors and drug manufacturers, so they can sue them and make money off of the deaths of addicts; and by raping taxpayers.

    We’re witnessing a genocide of disabled, elderly, and injured veterans committing suicide. In addition, MORE heroin users overdose because they’re driven to risk illicit drugs, when some prefer legal medicine. Now politicians are proclaiming victory by dishonestly leaving out deaths from meth (a far worse drug) and other drugs THEY increased with their “OPIOID!” panic. Prohibition is arguably bad, but an effective Prohibition on legal medicine (demonizing technology and limiting access to SOME – pain relief for an elite) is even worse.

Comments are closed.


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Drew Dixon, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704