Letter: Can we emulate Eastern Band’s syringe program?

Graphic by Lori Deaton

Perfectly apropos is the cartoon by Brent Brown [“A Growing Concern”] in the Sept. 11 issue of Mountain Xpress! But what if we protected our community streets and property at least as much as we protect (or try to protect) out national forests?!

Check out what the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians has done about syringe and hypodermic needles (still laughing, Brent!!) disposal with its magnificently successful and fully integrated Syringe Services Program: Syringe disposal kiosks placed all around the community. [See:] avl.mx/6jw and avl.mx/6jx.

Buncombe County and the city of Asheville are about to launch a pilot program using similar disposal kiosk units, which shall hopefully lead to a change in our overall behavior as it relates to proper sharps disposal — for any and everyone, even my grandmother who uses insulin syringes for her health. No stigma, no discrimination; just plain old public health standards where there is no fear about possessing hypodermic needles, especially on the way to the disposal kiosks around the city and county.

But will there be as many as in Cherokee? They are doing it the right way out there on the Qualla Boundary and in the Snowbird Community. Let’s try to emulate their program right here, right now. We can talk about safe injection facilities another time.

— Michael J. Harney Jr.
Co-founder, Needle Exchange Program of Asheville
(NEPA, est. 1994)


Thanks for reading through to the end…

We share your inclination to get the whole story. For the past 25 years, Xpress has been committed to in-depth, balanced reporting about the greater Asheville area. We want everyone to have access to our stories. That’s a big part of why we've never charged for the paper or put up a paywall.

We’re pretty sure that you know journalism faces big challenges these days. Advertising no longer pays the whole cost. Media outlets around the country are asking their readers to chip in. Xpress needs help, too. We hope you’ll consider signing up to be a member of Xpress. For as little as $5 a month — the cost of a craft beer or kombucha — you can help keep local journalism strong. It only takes a moment.

About Letters
We want to hear from you! Send your letters and commentary to letters@mountainx.com

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.