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Santa Cruz Indymedia | Drug War | Health, Housing, and Public Services

The End of an Era
by Steve Pleich
Tuesday Feb 12th, 2013 7:24 PM
Reflections on the eviseration of local needle exchange
Needle exchange as we have come to know it and rely upon it in Santa Cruz County is dead. Its passing should be mourned by more than the clients who used these services responsibly and who, it seems, are always the last people considered. It should also be mourned by a community that blindly and all too quickly abandoned good sense when the howl of the mob called for elimination of not only this essential service, but for the people it served.

Because, you see, the people who have effectively brought down a time tested, working public health model have done so for one reason and one reason only. They truly believe that reducing or eliminating altogether access to needles will solve the problems of addiction, co-dependency and crime. How little they know or understand.

It is said that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing and in this instance it will be deadly dangerous. When a new model of needle exchange rises from the ashes of the old, it will be driven by bureaucracy, overseen by law enforcement and rejected out of hand by the people it is created to serve. And the result will be more needles in our parks and on our beaches, more exposure to HIV and Hepatitis C infection and more, much more, of the witch hunt that has given rise to this new reality.

Better the community had closed its eyes entirely rather than divining our future through a veil of ignorance.

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by John E. Colby
Tuesday Feb 12th, 2013 11:39 PM
Very well written reflection. When fear not facts drive public policy, the results are often tragic. There are many to blame: misguided citizens acting with a mob mentality, cowardly politicians trying to divert responsibility, the police driving politics, and our local newspaper scandalously sensationalizing and scapegoating.

I fear for where Santa Cruz is headed. As we move forward through the end of Capitalism with its associated economic crises, Santa Cruz looks to become a much more mean spirited town. This is not the town that drew me to become a college student at UCSC in 1982. I am very disappointed in my fellow citizens.
by Robert Forsyth
Wednesday Feb 13th, 2013 6:49 AM
The system was broken....when used needles are found en masse on public property like parks and beaches, when a user can exchange one used needle for 30 clean ones, when the county health department is required by law to report annually on the program but hasn't for 4 years something had to be done. Needle exchanges were always meant to be a 1 for 1 exchange system. The way the program was run in Santa Cruz is a joke and has led to the despoiling of a wonderful town.
by Steve Pleich
Wednesday Feb 13th, 2013 10:37 AM
Richard, while I agree that needle exchange is broken in some respects, I do not think it is beyond repair. Had the collective leadership of the exchange engaged the community earlier and addressed their concerns we may have seen a different result.
As you may know, I was a volunteer with the exchange for more thqan three years and participated in more than 150 separate exchanges. In all that time, I never once witnesse!d the distribution of 30 extra needles nor even heard it suggested as an option. During my time with the exchange we were as close to a true one-for-one program as any exchange anywhere.
by Steve Pleich
Wednesday Feb 13th, 2013 10:49 AM
Robert, my apologies and I will finish my thought. I am as disappointed and distressed as anyone that a 30 needle plus policy has even been suggested let alone pursued.
by Robert Forsyth
Wednesday Feb 13th, 2013 12:06 PM
I also feel it is not beyond repair or should be shut down...but as the name implies it should be a 1 for 1 exchange. People may point out the proliferation of used needles being found and attributed to the Exchange as anecdotal (which I agree it is to some point)...but where do you start? I feel that more oversite of the Needle Exchange is as good a place as any and may lead to results that "most" of the residents of Santa Cruz will appreciate.
by John E. Colby
Wednesday Feb 13th, 2013 12:20 PM
Police involvement in needle exchange will likely doom it by driving away drug users who would otherwise exchange needles.
by @
Wednesday Feb 13th, 2013 1:36 PM
these same idiots will be whining about increased health costs to the taxpayers when sc aids cases expode from this policy.

the real problem is the heroin and meth use. if the police can't fix that problem, maybe we need different police.
by Realistic goal
Wednesday Feb 13th, 2013 1:55 PM
Steve, I don't think you understand the primary concern that caused this outcry, or the change that is hoped for by the shutdown of the exchange. The reason I support the change of what I believe is a currently broken model has nothing to do with any naive dream that it will solve the problems of addiction, co-dependency and crime.

I don't believe it will do any of those things. My single hope is that it will cause a reduction in the number of discarded needles being left in our public spaces. Period. That's it. One single goal.

We've reached a point where a weekend hunt by a dozen people found 150 needles. A point where the cities own Junior Guards program feels it must send a warning letter to parents alerting them that their child may be at risk of stepping on a needle in the sand while participating in the program. That's unacceptable.

I will support reinstitution of the exchange when it can be run in a more accountable manner; which is to say when it returns to being an exchange and stops being a dispensary. 1 for 1. Not 1 for 30.
by Steve Pleich
Wednesday Feb 13th, 2013 4:41 PM
Realistic Goal

No one is more distressed than I about the suggestion that a 30 to 1 policy is an acceptable "1 plus" model. As I stated above, my experience with the exchange did not embrace such a policy. But the answer to your concern about needle litter is, in part at least, more exchange sites and community involvement, not less.
by Observed
Wednesday Feb 13th, 2013 6:02 PM
...first of all I support needle exchange!

That means a 1 for 1 policy.

Obviously that was the policy of the SC exchange when you were involved. But equally obvious is the fact 1 for 1 is no longer the policy. That has created unintended consequences. Until the exchange is more manageable things need to be put on hold.

Fresno's experience was that it was not a great idea to operate in or very near homes. Being in a regional park had its problems when used needles started turning up in a children's play area. While it was likely NOT the fault of the exchange, it was still blamed for the problem.

To its credit, the Fresno took positive steps and so prevented a shutdown. Given its illegal status at the time it would've been very easy to justify closing it down completely. The county supervisors were very hostile towards the concept and the city simply looked the other way. The county had prosecuted volunteers in the late 1990s when the exchange operated in the Tower District.

When the used needles turned up, the exchange moved out of the park to a nearby commercial area. That relieved the community concerns and things kept on trucking.

Hopefully the SC exchange can resolve the problems it now faces. It better. Otherwise it may go away completely. That would be likely very unfortunate.
by Razer Ray
Wednesday Feb 13th, 2013 7:12 PM
Listen now:
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how_governments_work.mp3 1.5MB

"the real problem is the heroin and meth use. if the police can't fix that problem, maybe we need different police. "

The REAL problem with heroin and meth use is the socioeconomic structure of Santa Cruz that 'produces' nihilists who hit the big ESCAPE button. Let me know when there's housing that can be afforded with available local jobs, and local kids (like 15-30 age bracket) , who by far constitute the largest population of drug (and alcohol) users around here, stop living with the sword hanging over their heads that they won't be able to afford rent to move out the the parents house no less be able to afford to raze (sic) a family here.

All one has to do is go to ANY AANA meeting at Louden Nelson to get the picture.

If the city government can't fix the problem maybe we need a different city government.

Just sayin'
by Gerard
Wednesday Feb 13th, 2013 7:44 PM
Where is it you get the idea that Santa Cruz owes anybody a certain standard of living?

Or do you expect the Boardwalk to pay people 220K a year for sitting in the Dippin' Dots booth?
by Razer Ray
Thursday Feb 14th, 2013 12:07 PM
sharks_running_aquariums2.jpg
sharks_running_aquariums2...

If that's what it costs to live here it's on the government of the city to see to it that SOME housing IS available at SOME price that the average worker can afford.

Otherwise It's SURELY "Redlining"... Something the county got jacked for a number of years ago with the city STILL bumbling blindly and illegally ahead with it's economic cleansing of the city

Further, it's up to the residents to JACK THEM UP if they don't.

Which is exactly why Santa Cruz has been turned into a town of transients, College students, office workers and tech workers in offices on contract from elsewhere, who aren't interested in local issues at all. Those folks can afford to, and are legally allowed to, write of A LARGE PORTION of their housing as an expense on their taxes) with the homeless, even as the 70% so-called 'homeless'... displaced citizens, actually constituting what passes for "Locals", often drug and alcohol damaged, like the local kids, as a result of that disenfranchisement.

But the transients don't see the problem until it affects them, and let me tell you something, the SCPD, in it's incompetence, WILL NEVER catch the person that mugged and shot that very lucky to be alive college student by Natural Bridges the other day.

But you CAN BET YOUR SWEET FUCKING ASS they'll use it to pander to the fears of every female college student in the county using the Sentinel as a hate-fest forum for fascism in Santa Cruz and a bully pulpit for a bigger police budget to finance further incompetence, which as I'm illustrating, DOES HAVE IT'S BENEFITS for them.

You want a drug free community.

Work towards a community where no one needs to 'hit the escape button'.

It's REALLY that simple (and that complicated too), and I DO NOT KNOW WHERE YOU CAME FROM AND WHEN but that WAS this community until the so-called Progressive Liberals pimped Santa Cruz like a cheap whore to so-called development interests so their real estate buddies could make bank on the carcass of Santa Cruz community in the wake of the earthquake.

The city of Santa Cruz has been negligent INTENTIONALLY negligent, for their commercial and rental property friend's benefit, and one of the socioeconomic (follow me.. I KNOW that word has a lot of syllables...) end results is a city full of adolescent and young adult DRUG AND ALCOHOL ADDICTS.

Do you care?

Do you have a solution besides giving money to the government for institutionalization of addicts?

Again... Do you care?

I mean where did YOU get the idea that a city's government IS NOT responsible for the safety and well-being of ALL OF the citizens of that community?

OTOH, it's highly unlikely you'd define community the way, lets say, a European or Russian might because it wouldn't serve YOUR personal interests.

That's a 'dis'... But you probably won't "get it".


Community... a discussion:

[...] Hopkins also makes the excellent point that the entire approach of "creating community" is patronizing and ineffective. Community regenerates spontaneously, given time, space, a commonality of interest, provided it is not too oppressed. As industrial economies continue to shrink and shed jobs, more and more people will be squeezed out to the margins of the consumerist universe, and, finding more time on their hands than they know what to do with, will start to reengage with other people in similar situations. Since their needs will often be coincident or complementary, they will form various types of temporary and informal groups. There is certainly a great deal that all of us can do to help, but "organizing" is not one of them. First and foremost, we should stop working so hard on destroying community, as we have been doing by leading overwhelmingly regimented and commercialized existences. [...]

http://cluborlov.blogspot.com/2010/01/real-communities-are-self-organizing.html

And a response to that:

How (not to) to Organize a Community

[...] [This is another guest post from Yevgeny, which he wrote in response to my article How (not) to Organize a Community. He poses what, to a Russian, seems an obvious question: “How (not) to organize a WHAT?” You see, upon close examination the English word “community” turns out to be all but meaningless. English speakers all assume that they know what they are talking about when they say it, but a Russian speaker who tries to translate it ends up with the following list: “society, union, locality, district, hostel, state, population, residents, communal ownership.” One begins to suspect that “community” is just a pompous and self-important way of saying “people,” just as American nannies (sorry, “daycare specialists”) refer to the little sprogs in their charge as “doing activities,” instead of “playing games” as normal, non-robotic children do. [...]

by Razer Ray
Thursday Feb 14th, 2013 12:10 PM
My bad... Forgot the link to: "But what is "Community"?"

http://cluborlov.blogspot.com/2010/11/but-what-is-community.html
by (posted by) Norse
Thursday Feb 14th, 2013 12:25 PM
Consider this report from Ottawa, which suffered the same needle hysteria as Santa Cruz is apparently going through: Politicians there first called for banning needle exchange, then restricting it to a strict 1-for-1, then supporting the existing provide-clean-needles-and-safe-disposal" policy at http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/story/2008/06/12/ot-needle-080612.html :


1-for-1 Needle Exchange Risky, Costly: Report Last Updated: Thursday, June 12, 2008 | 4:49 PM ET CBC News

The City of Ottawa should continue to give away clean needles and collect dirty ones separately instead of requiring addicts to bring in a dirty needle for each clean one they receive, says a report from the city's interim medical officer of health.

Dr. Isra Levy presented the findings to city council Thursday after conducting a review of the city's needle exchange program, as requested by a group of councillors in April.

Under the current program, the city provides free, clean needles to addicts to discourage needle sharing and reduce the spread of HIV and hepatitis. It provides separate containers where addicts can drop off used needles.

The councillors felt the current system results in dirty syringes littering parks and sidewalks, and wanted the medical officer of health to look into switching to a one-for-one exchange system.

According to the report, more than 2,000 needles ended up on the streets in 2007, even though the city took in more needles than it gave out. It distributes about 343,000 a year.

A "restricted," one-for-one exchange would have many health and operational disadvantages, said Levy's report, which reviewed 137 medical studies and looked at the context of Ottawa's needle exchange program.

It found that in cities with a restricted system:

The incidence of HIV increased. In contrast, it decreased in cities with a system like Ottawa's.
The risk of being infected with HIV was three times higher than in cities with a system like Ottawa's.
Addicts were more likely to reuse needles.

The report estimated that the City of Ottawa could expect a 33 per cent increase in new infections each year if it switched to a restricted needle exchange.

In addition, the report said such a restricted program would:

Likely encourage addicts to carry large numbers of discarded needles for a longer period of time, as cocaine addicts can inject the drug 20 to 30 times a day. That could increase the risk of police and paramedics being accidentally stuck with a dirty needle, the report said.
Cost significantly more, as it would require more staff and infrastructure.

The report recommends instead dealing with the discarded needles by boosting its dirty needle cleanup with an action plan. Under the plan:

Needles would be treated as an environmental hazard.
A dedicated hotline would be created for discarded needles.
The city would map "hot spots" for discarded needles.
The needle drop box program would be expanded.

A full time public-health trainee and a summer student would be hired to support the program.

Levy has been acting medical officer of health since the resignation of Dr. David Salisbury in May. Salisbury opposed one-for-one exchange, saying that it would boost the spread of disease.

FOR AN EXTENDED DEBATE ON THE ISSUE (Whew!) go to: http://dbp.idebate.org/en/index.php/Debate:_Needle_exchanges .
by Robert Norse
Thursday Feb 14th, 2013 4:45 PM
...politicians and would-be politicians who expressed no public opposition to the closing of Barson St. exchange/distribution area are pandering to fear and putting public health at risk.

Those who pander further to the mythology that suggests enforcing a strict 1-for-1 distribution is some sort of safety measure that has any reasonable justification are also guilty of misleading and misstating the evidence.

I encourage Micah Posner, Steve Pleich, Don Lane, etc. to show a little backbone here and speak truth--even if it's unpopular. I think lives and the community's health depends on not just trying to "manage the situation" by accepting half-truths because they're hysterically repeated at City Council meetings by angry and frightened people.

If I'm missing something, please cite sources and evidence.
by Lower Ocean Heights
Saturday Feb 16th, 2013 10:31 AM
it's very simple, the people that actually live here DON'T WANT NEEDLE EXCHANGE in this neighborhood. Not against them carrying on in sensible, responsible place and time to do needle exchange, just not in Lower Ocean.
by ex-SC resident
Saturday Feb 16th, 2013 1:57 PM
someone above said that college students are among the population allowed to write housing expenses off on their taxes, and somehow have a wealth advantage compared to long-term residents.

I worked two years on a contract at UC, and during this time I developed a sense of disgust at certain long-term residents who own houses, and often raise children here (who I presume will live in their bedrooms or the garage forever?) who actively oppose any zoning for apartments. Santa Cruz has always been more youth oriented than the Monterey end of the bay, and has more singles than Watsonville or Salinas. The university has been there nearly 50 years now, yet people act like it is infringing on the vibe of the town. Some of the long-term homeowners around here who live near the university just insist against allowing apartments to be built near the school (which would cut down on traffic) and also insist on strict policing of noise. People in their 20s are just supposed to disappear, or find someone to rent a house to a group of 5-10 younger. Before I was lucky enough to get a super small 225 sq ft studio from someone, I was looking at expensive travel trailers parked in people's backyard or converted garages. Apartments are much more self-patrolling as far as noise and party size too. You can travel to other cities with the same lot size, and they are much more able to provide spaces for poorer, single or elderly residents who can't afford and keep up a house
by John E. Colby
Saturday Feb 16th, 2013 3:32 PM
There is no evidence that needle exchange caused the crime occurring on the Lower Ocean Street neighborhood. Due to its location and reputation, it is likely this would be a crime ridden neighborhood with or without needle exchange.

I have 911 dispatch summaries for the street blocks for three different laundromats in Santa Cruz. It does not appear that more crime was being reported to 911 on Barson Street than on Laurel Street or on Mission Street.

This is a major failure of the Santa Cruz Police Department (SCPD) and the City Council. The City Council, in order to act upon facts not fear, should have directed the SCPD to gather evidence to support the hypothesis that needle exchange caused a disproportionate amount of crime in Lower Ocean Street. They did not do this. When Robert Norse asked SCPD Deputy Chief Rick Martinez about this, Martinez stated that it would be a lot of work and was unnecessary. Why was that?

The City Council and the SCPD don't give whit about objective reality. They only care about the misperceptions of a mob of residents and the predilections of the leaders of Take Back Santa Cruz. They are acting on the whims of an angry mob. This is how innocent groups of people are vilified leading to senseless violence against them
by Charmer
Saturday Feb 16th, 2013 5:21 PM
The only thing the 911 record numbers might prove, is that residents of Lower Ocean don't bother to call!
by John E. Colby
Saturday Feb 16th, 2013 5:44 PM
If so many of the Barson neighborhood residents were angry enough to bitch to the City Council about crime in their neighborhood, then why weren't they calling 911?
by Lower ocean heights
Sunday Feb 17th, 2013 9:36 AM
I believe the reason needle exchange was moved from Barson is due to zoning issue. That is the technical/legal reason. But also enough of us have grown sick of needles in our yards, stolen bikes, junkies sleeping in our yards, armed robberies, gang violence & murder that we want to see some change. As in my previous post, I'm happy to see needle exchange out of my hood.
by John E. Colby
Monday Feb 18th, 2013 1:53 AM
This new campaign against homeless campers and homeless addicts — the City Council and the SCPD don't care about housed criminals and addicts — bears a striking similarity to the early Nazi campaign to rid Germany of those declared to be asocial. The Nazis were determined to erase these *asocial* individuals from society, finally exterminating them.

Our politicians and a mob of angry citizens are coming dangerously close to declaring that entire classes of people do not deserve to live within our city. They are willing to use the apparatus of state security — the local police — to force these individuals out, to cleanse Santa Cruz of them.

This is very disturbing. I believe these analogies are appropriate and need to be pointed out. No one believed when the Nazis came to power in 1933 that they would eventually exterminate over 6 million people in concentration camps.

http://blacktrianglecampaign.org/2011/09/04/the-undeserving-ill-a-warning-m-e-the-nazi-legacy/
by Fed up
Monday Feb 18th, 2013 11:59 AM
... you don't run foul of some of our Tea Party types John. Over in the Valley a few people have been tossing around a solution to homeless and addiction in the Fresno area. Their idea is to give homeless addicts three choices: get clean, leave town or die. Some of the nuttier folks call this the "8 cent solution."

Needless to say I'm appalled by the idea. But it shows the frustration some of the public are feeling. They view the law as an ass, caring more about the rights of mopes than honest people. They want to feel secure and some don't care how it happens.

Be careful what you suggest John. You just might get it.
by Penelope Jernberg (posted by Norse)
Monday Feb 18th, 2013 9:14 PM
Penelope Jernberg, a former intern with Santa Cruz needle exchange, is independent of that group now and speaks as a free agent. She is currently working to decriminalize syrine possession to start operating syringe services in Nevada. I received the following letter from her on Sunday February 17th.


Hi Robert,

First, I would like to address the confusion about "best practices" for syringe access and public health recommendations. The current recommendations for syringe access are to provide as many unused syringes as possible. The reason for this is that for each injection a person should be using a new syringe, for every time. That means if a person injects 4 times a day, they need 4 needles a day, not reusing one. The health concern for this is that reusing makes the syringe dull, this can tear skin more than needed. The more pressing reason is that reusing a syringe exposes the syringe to many bacteria, that bacteria is then injected straight into blood or tissue which frequently causes or puts them at higher risk of other health problems such as MRSA (drug resistant staph), necrotizing fasciitis (flesh eating bacteria), and a host of other disease.

This is not even including sharing syringes. As I'm sure you know sharing syringes is the number one cause of Hepatitis C in our country, which estimates that over 70% of IDU's (injection drug users) contract it. This is what fuels me. I'm not sure at what point any person should be condemned to a slow death of liver failure due to their own preferences. Some drugs are legal and some are not. People are prescribed serious opiates by doctors and those that can not get them use heroin, which in its pure form is actually safer and better for your health than fentanyl, morphene, and oxycontin.

To not have access to syringes is the primary reason that people share theirs with others while using drugs. this is not just the first cause of transmission for HCV it is also the third cause of HIV transmission in our country. Another life long and deadly disease.

The current CDC recommendations are that an IDU use a new syringe for every injection. That implies they would need as many as they use personally. To have a one for one policy restricts the amount that an individual has access to at any given time. If they only have one and the exchange is not open for another two days and they inject five times a day...that's only simple arithmetic to know they do not have enough to inject safely every time. The previous exchange at the drop in center had a one for one policy. I urge those that are against it to think about the repercussions of not giving enough syringes. On a human note, without regards to literature it just makes sense. I recall on one such occasion working at the drop in center when an individual was trying to get just one needle and I could not give it to him because he did not have one. He told me he was on his way to the metro to fish one out of the biohazards, likely to contract some disease. Why would we do this to someone just because we don't agree with a policy? We as a community condemned him to that because we couldn't accept a one for one plus program. This occasion and the many others that were similar broke my heart, and they push me every day to do more research, to try harder, to help those that can not help them selves.

To go back to resources and policy. There are numerous federally funded studies that prove with significance that one for one is not an effective policy. The Surgeon General endorses syringe access and the federal government has such loose language for oversight or recommendations that you could throw unused needles out of a window and that would follow federal guidelines. So when anyone says it does not follow guidelines, I'm curious which ones? There are none. http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/resources/guidelines/PDF/SSP-guidanceacc.pdf (a copy of the most up to date federal guidelines) Syringe access has been passed on to state and local governments as a policy, way too large of a policy for a small government to regulate. When the Santa Cruz City Council first claimed SOS did not have the correct paperwork to operate a syringe access program I can address that: There is NO paperwork, there are no permits, there are very few to no regulations discerning what a syringe access program can and can not do.

Several years ago when I was more involved and helped to establish the exchange we filed an MOU with the HSA that recognized us as a viable program, to this day they support us completely, including following a one for one plus model. During this time I tried to connect with the police department to establish some agreement with them. What happened was appalling at best. I tried to have a conversation with Steve Clark who immediately cut me off and suddenly was yelling at me over the phone, thank goodness I did not try to go in there. I was and still am offended. This man clearly should not be in a public position as I experienced him loosing his temper in a matter of minutes. He then went on to say he did not and would not support our program because we did not follow federal guidelines. Obviously I tried to address the fact that there are NO federal guidelines. He used his same tactic, and barely let me talk. So, we never established anything with the police department, but boy we tried.

The only grounds that the City Council legitimately has on SOS is that they were operating without consent of the laundromat owner, we also tried to contact him when we first took over, I do not even know who he or she is.

To address discarded syringes: the primary reason people improperly discard their syringes is police harassment. It is currently legal to posses up to 30 unused syringes and any amount that are containerized. This has not changed with law enforcement practices. People are going to jail for possession of paraphernalia laws that no longer exist! For fear of arrest they are throwing them where they can (in general). As my previous anecdote states, I'm sure police practice won't change since Dick Clark er, Steve Clark won't even talk about needles without yelling. I for one hope never to talk to him again.

Finally, to address the current laws, they are both current and correct. Let me specify a few points of them both. Pharmacists are allowed to provide up to 30 syringes without a prescription. http://www.cdph.ca.gov/programs/aids/Pages/OASAOverview.aspx (law here)

The downsides to this law:

Sale is at the discretion of the pharmacist, if you look dirty they probably won't sell to you
The pharmacy has to opt in to selling this to start with
syringes cost money, if you need money to get your fix or food more money is hard to get
you can only get 30, what if you are exchanging for multiple people and inject frequently.
the pharmacist does not provide other works which by sharing also lead to infection
the pharmacist does not provide referrals to other services (shelter, food, medical services)
the pharmacist most likely does not know health complications specific to IDUs
in general, listening and being a non judgmental advocate as SOS volunteers are, is lost in this process

This law is definitely a step in the right direction, but it is no solution. There are still many limitations to this law.
In regards to the other, yes California legally permits Syringe Access Programs. This law allows specific counties or jurisdictions to allow Syringe Access Programs in their community when they see fit. It is still not an oversight law or regulation though, the county or area has to allow it. Santa Cruz allowed it decades ago, and I do not know the specifics of that. It is my understanding that an MOU is sufficient to allow an SAP to function.

I know this was long, but I have a lot to say about Syringe Access. It is from my experience that what is preventing these programs from functioning to their fullest across the nation is stigma of IDUs and drug use (primarily), a lack of understanding public health, and a lack of better regulation. There is a lot to overcome before we can rest at night knowing we are preventing HIV or HCV to the best of our abilities.

Robert, thank you for your interest in syringe access and the Santa Cruz program, and for being an advocate. I hope I addressed your questions, please let me know if you have any further questions. I would like to add that I write this as an individual and with no representation, perhaps only as a student at this point.


Thank You,
Penelope Jernberg
University of Nevada, Reno
MPH Graduate Assistant
pjernberg [at] yahoo.com

Penelope and perhaps other needle exchange workers will be guests on my Free Radio Santa Cruz show Thursday February 21 6 PM-8 PM at 101.3 FM (streams at http://tunein.com/radio/FRSC-s47254/ . the show will archive at http://www.radiolibre.org/brb/brb130221.mp3 . Call-in number is 831-423-4833.
by LeReef
Tuesday Feb 19th, 2013 9:38 AM
Why not have an open task force with many members of the community, not a select appointed private list. If the mayor's choices represent this so be it but I wonder. . There's classes of giving and receiving, and classes of war and now i how you get and use needle that classifies SOMETHING more, it doesn't solve any underlying problem.
by Razer Ray
Friday Feb 22nd, 2013 10:19 AM
I only have two criteria:

1> The exchange is legal by all state standards.

2> Information and statistics collected on usage and users of the exchange are completely anonymous.

If #2 contravenes state law then the only option I could possibly support would be covert operation.
by John E. Colby
Friday Feb 22nd, 2013 9:21 PM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aW9PulYpjGs

Watch this interview with Naomi Wolf about how despots take over open societies in her warning to Americans. Despots always create so called internal enemies to crush democracies. In Santa Cruz, addicts and the homeless serve as the necessary internal enemies.
by Steve Pleich
Saturday Feb 23rd, 2013 1:27 PM
As I pointed out to Ray last evening, during my time with the exchange only very general information was collected and was kept in strict confidence. Ray and I in agreement on something. Be still my heart!
by Razer Ray
Saturday Feb 23rd, 2013 7:54 PM

...houseless, and HAVE ALWAYS BEEN an enemy of their 'state'. So I don't get your point. Demonization in small societies is VERY easy to disarm because it's possible for ME to know as many 'fine upstanding citizens' as any city council member... Unfortunately, and thanks to the way shelter services here have been arranged by the county, the city DOES have a perception management incubator.. It's called the Homeless "Resource" Center which is designed to attract EXACTLY the element the Senile and city officials LUV to complain about.

Funny how that happens.