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The City Council was right to support needle exchange

By Scott Tibbs, September 4, 2015

The city council made the right decision at the June 26 meeting in support of a syringe exchange program operated through the county Health Department. It was a wise, prudent and compassionate decision that should be commended.

Let's be honest: The "War on Drugs" has failed. Increasingly, that war is being fought around the country as a literal war, complete with military equipment directly from the Pentagon.

We have seen the results of this "war" mentality in countless no-knock SWAT raids around the country, including a horrific incident in Georgia last year when a SWAT team inadvertently threw a flash bang grenade into a baby's crib. The baby suffered severe burns when the grenade exploded in his face. The sad thing is that the raid was completely unnecessary. The suspect they were searching for did not live in the home and was arrested without incident the next day at a different location.

Drug abuse is a problem that has serious repercussions for society in addition for the addicts themselves and their families. But instead of fighting drug abuse as an increasingly literal war, it should be treated as a public health issue. When you consider how much of our local jail population is impacted by substance abuse issues, attacking this through the criminal justice system is clearly not working. Only through helping people overcome their addictions can we truly make an impact on drug abuse. This is one of those areas where a broad nonpartisan consensus is emerging.

Kudos to the city council for making the right decision.