Ohio bill could help drug users get clean syringes

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- A bill passed by the Ohio House would let communities set up programs for drug users to exchange dirty needles for clean syringes.

Backers say the bipartisan bill helps address public health concerns linked to Ohio's growing heroin problem by slowing the spread of hepatitis C, HIV and other infections that can be passed among intravenous drug users on a dirty syringe.

Some conservative Republicans argue it would enable drug users instead of addressing the root problems.

The House passed the legislation Wednesday, sending it to the Senate.

A lead sponsor, Democratic Rep. Nickie Antonio of Lakewood, tells The Columbus Dispatch that 28 other states allow needle exchanges.

Under current law, needle exchanges can be created in Ohio only with a declared health emergency. Cleveland and Portsmouth have such programs.

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