Op-Ed: Nanny State Government Pushing for Needle Exchange
The following op-ed is written by Campbell Co. Commissioner Charlie Coleman.
For the past year I have canvased Campbell County residents as to their opinion on Needle Exchange (Distribution) and most recently on allowing our County Police to carry and administer Narcan. Although not scientific, overwhelmingly Campbell Countians have told me “NO” to the Needle Program while having mixed opinions on the County Police use of Narcan.
Don’t let the government-sponsored term “Exchange” fool you. It is a distribution that fails to take needles off the street.
Here’s an example of how the program works: If an addict request 40 needles, they are given 40 needles. If they return only 30 of the needles, they are still given 40 more. Simple math proves more needles will be on the street. This example was verified by a Northern Kentucky Health Department Official at the April 20 Fiscal Court meeting.
The Health Department, St. Elizabeth Hospital, and all those advocating for this program cite what they refer to as data-driven research to prove this needle distribution will control the spread of Hepatitis C and HIV. However, they fail to mention that there are numerous other causes of Hepatitis C and HIV. Other ways of spreading the diseases are unprotected sex, sharing of toothbrushes and razors, getting a tattoo, body piercing, acupuncture, and long-term kidney dialysis.
The Health Department and St. Elizabeth are lobbying hard for the implementation of the program. We are told there are more cases of Hepatitis C and HIV each year. While this may be true, we must ask, “Are you testing more people”?
The plan is to locate the “Needle Exchange” at the County Fiscal Court Building in Newport. The building was constructed for conducting County business. The County Clerk, Sheriff, PVA, Planning and Zoning, Housing Department, Occupational Business, and Fiscal Court offices are all located here. It is not uncommon for citizens to bring their children with them when they get their automobile license, pay taxes, etc. Should Campbell County citizens and their children be exposed to potential overdose situations at the County building? Even though the Health Department is also located here it should be disclosed that they contributed financially for its construction and pay nearly 15 percent maintenance cost yearly.
Since St. Elizabeth promotes this why not locate the program at St. Elizabeth Hospital? St. Elizabeth could provide immediate medical care along with behavioral health services.
Not all citizens are opposed to the use of Narcan. Narcan does save lives. EMS personnel will tell you they are called to save the life of the same individual time and time again. Sometimes they revive the same person more than once on the same day. Besides controlling the spread of disease, proponents of the Needle Distribution Program say the addicts will be offered help.
Wouldn’t you think having been brought back from death would motivate you to seek help? It doesn’t.
Using heroin is against the law. Spin it any way you want: giving needles for the use of heroin is enabling the addict. How can we elected officials who took an oath of office to uphold the law assist in committing a crime? Keep in mind, the Health Department and St. Elizabeth are the same people that lobbied for a smoking ban in Campbell County. They wanted to ban a legal product and now promote the use of an illegal one. Further hypocrisy: bartenders and business owners can be held liable for serving customers too much alcohol resulting in an accident. However, the government can distribute needles to addicts which may also result in an accident without any liability. We have read of accidents caused by heroin use on a regular basis, some of which have resulted in innocent victims being killed.
So, it is fair to ask, “Coleman what’s the answer”?
I wish I had the perfect answer. Government spends $9 billion a year in drug interdiction in Afganistan where the opium is produced. It then comes to the United States through Mexico. Campbell County citizens are smart enough to realize that somebody with the power to stop it wants it here. My answer is to cut the supply and mandate long-term jail sentences for the dealers without parole.
When I campaigned for office I promised to be a voice for the taxpayers and put the people above the politics. Government most always looks for short-sighted solutions and caves to powerful interest groups. Here is a novel idea: let the people decide. “I’m the Government and I know what is best for you” is not always the best solution to a problem. When we take decision-making from the people, we know we are living in tyranny run by the government.
Recall Ronald Reagan’s famous quote about the worst words we can hear, “We are the Government and we are here to help.”
The Fiscal Court needs to not make this decision without hearing more from the citizens of Campbell County. It should be announced well in advance as to when a vote will take place. Even though I have got conflicting answers as to the legality, how about putting it on the ballot?