A group of West Asheville residents proposed changes to House Bill 972, the law that legalized needle exchanges throughout the state, that would greatly restrict where and the programs operate.
The Buncombe County Health and Human Services Department will offer syringe services at its 40 Coxe Ave. clinic beginning in July or August, joining the Needle Exchange Program of Asheville and the Steady Collective in providing supplies and education to reduce the harms associated with injection drug use.
On March 1, city spokesperson Ashley Traynum-Carson said in a press release the needle exchange would now be considered a medical clinic after it formalized a commitment to have a medical professional on-site during operation. The process by which Asheville arrived at its new position, however, remains unclear.
“I applaud Shannon Spencer’s efforts to save lives.”
“Firestorm treats with humanity those patrons who are respectful, including the homeless looking for a safe place to stay for a couple hours.”
Firestorm Books & Coffee and The Steady Collective announced that they had formally appealed their notices of violation on Sept. 17. The appeals will likely be considered at the next meeting of the city’s Board of Adjustment, which takes place on Monday, Oct. 22. If the board rejects the appeals, the groups face civil penalties of $100 for every day they remain out of zoning compliance.
Some say The Steady Collective, Firestorm Books and Coffee, Kairos West Community Center and 12 Baskets Café have reduced the area’s safety by offering services to drug users and homeless clients. The Asheville Police Department has claimed that the number of complaints filed in the neighborhood — including drug use, trespassing and syringes discarded on a nearby playground — have risen dramatically in recent months.
“Support your local needle-exchange program any way you are able, and tell your state senators and representatives to get real about a scientifically proven method to reduce the spread of blood-borne pathogens by writing a better bill!”
“Senate Bill 794 … would allow exchanges to be run without liability, to educate individuals on proper harm-reduction techniques and to distribute overdose antidote kits.”