Needle Exchange Question Divides Attorney General Hopefuls
Disagreements over the original intent of a needle exchange provision in this year’s anti-heroin bill have split lawmakers largely down party lines in Frankfort – and it appears those differences also extend to the candidates vying to become the state’s next top law enforcement official.
In an interview with cn|2 Pure Politics, Republican Attorney General contender Whitney Westerfield said the so-called “free exchanges,” which hand out clean needles without asking drug users to drop off dirty ones, aren’t what he envisioned when he helped sell skeptical Senate colleagues on the idea of needle exchanges.
"In the debate and over the conversations that we had, one of the things we were trying to combat was needles sticks with law enforcement and to prevent people who are finding these needles out in public places from being stuck with those dirty needles. And we're now flooding the streets. We have put back out in the streets of Louisville twice what we've brought in," he said.
But Westerfield’s Democratic opponent, Andy Beshear, sees room to allow local governments to customize their programs.
"I think ultimately that depends on the community and what kind of risk they're facing," he says.
The Louisville attorney, and son of Gov. Steve Beshear, tells cn|2 that language in the bill grants that flexibility to communities, arguing "the way that both Louisville and others have set programs up meet the law."
Lexington’s needle exchange will be launched Sept. 4.