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Charleston Council updates harm reduction program after bill is signed into law

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — After nearly four hours of debate, the Charleston City Council on Monday passed a bill placing new restrictions on harm reduction programs.

Council members passed a bill prohibiting organizations from providing hypodermic needles without certification from the state Bureau for Public Health. The council additionally approved changes requiring organizations to attempt to recover all needles distributed with the goal of receiving 90% of all needles and for the syringes to be marked.

Penalties for violating the law include a misdemeanor charge and a possible fine between $500 and $1,000.

The city council delayed the vote on the bill until the state Legislature’s regular 60-day session concluded; Gov. Jim Justice last week signed Senate Bill 334, which requires programs to receive state licensure and for programs to operate with the goal of a one-to-one exchange. Penalties for violating the law also will increase from $500 to up to $10,000.

Unlike the new state law. which will go into effect on July 9, the city’s bill will be in effect in four days.

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