Charleston City Council has taken a step toward establishing a needle exchange program.
Council members approved an ordinance on Monday decriminalizing possession of hypodermic syringes and needles. The ordinance also allows distribution of needles and syringes that are part of a needle exchange program, so long as such a program is approved or sponsored by the city's police chief.
Dr. Michael Brumage with the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department says the ordinance opens a path to begin a needle exchange program.
Such programs allow intravenous drug users to exchange used needles for clean ones.
Last week, the Wheeling-Ohio County Board of Health voted to establish a county-operated needle exchange program. Cabell County launched the state's first program earlier this month.