Bill Could Provide Free Drug Needles for Heroin Users

- ANNAPOLIS, Md. - Your tax dollars could pay for free drug needles for heroin users if a bill passes in the Maryland General Assembly, but opponents say this could help reduce HIV rates..

"I thought this was outrageous. My constituents work very hard for their taxpayer dollars that they pay to the state, and they expect it to go to things like roads and schools, not to facilitating and subsidizing illegal drug use," said Del. Michael Hough, (R) -Frederick/Washington Counties.

The House bill passed in the Maryland House of Delegates, and the Senate bill passed in the Maryland Senate. The bills now go to the opposite chamber.

"Heroin is a major epidemic," Hough said. "Kids are dying left and right. In fact, fatalities from heroin overdoses are up 54 percent across the state, and I just find it completely ridiculous and irresponsible that state lawmakers would vote to subsidize illegal behavior and vote to give people free needles of a drug that's killing people."

If approved, Hough says $250,000 of taxpayer money would go to provide unlimited needles for heroin users in Baltimore City.

"When we have young people now that are driving from Western Maryland and going to Baltimore City to buy their drugs and when they go out there, thanks to the taxpayers now, they're going to get free heroin needles to use their drugs," Hough said. "I think it's an absolutely terrible signal."

Currently, heroin users in Baltimore City must bring back a used needle to exchange it for a new one. Under the bill, they could receive several needles at one time.

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