Quietly, Congress Lifted Ban On Federal Funding For Needle Exchanges

Jan 11, 2016

As of Dec 21, 2015, federal funds may be used to purchase equipment and transportation for needle exchange programs, like this van driven by public health nurse Brittany Combs in Scott County, Indiana
Credit Seth Herald / Side Effects Public Media

Amid fears that providing free, clean needles would promote illegal drug use, Congress passed a law prohibiting the use of federal funds to support needle exchange programs in 1988. But at the end of last year, lawmakers effectively ended that ban.

According to an aide, the change was spearheaded by Kentucky Republicans Rep. Hal Rodgers and Sen. Mitch McConnell, in reaction to the nationwide heroin epidemic and the HIV outbreak among injection drug users in southern Indiana last year.  Buzzfeed reports: 

After Decades, Congress Effectively Lifts Ban On Federally Funded Needle Exchanges