Last night, Florida took a major step toward protecting the health and dignity of people who use drugs with Governor Ron DeSantis’s signature of the Infectious Disease Elimination Act, which will bring legally authorized syringe exchange programs across the state. The Drug Policy Alliance worked closely with partner IDEA Exchange, a highly successful syringe access program in Miami led by Dr. Hansel Tookes, to secure the expansion, which was approved by the legislature in May 2019.
“Florida is showing tremendous leadership by allowing the expansion of syringe exchange programs, which have proven to be highly effective health interventions,” said Maria McFarland Sanchez-Moreno, Executive Director of the Drug Policy Alliance. “Particularly at a time of skyrocketing overdose rates, it is critical that policymakers adopt compassionate and evidence-based policies to protect the health of people who use drugs and others.”
Syringe access programs have long been proven to significantly reduce rates of overdose deaths and preventable diseases like HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C. They also provide access to treatment and healthcare services for drug users who often face barriers to care. The success of the IDEA Exchange in Miami – which DPA worked on getting Florida to authorize in 2016, helped to pave the road for this expansion.
“I want to thank DPA for the crucial support to help us get this legislation across the finish line this year,” said Dr. Hansel Tookes, who lead Miami’s IDEA Exchange. “Lives will be saved. HIV infections will be prevented. People who use drugs will be treated with compassion and have access to the help they need.”
With this new law, Florida becomes just the 22nd jurisdiction in our country to legally authorize syringe exchange programs. Many still operate underground and face daily risk of closure, further fueling the spread of blood borne diseases and overdose rates.
About Drug Policy Alliance
The Drug Policy Alliance envisions a just society in which the use and regulation of drugs are grounded in science, compassion, health and human rights, in which people are no longer punished for what they put into their own bodies but only for crimes committed against others, and in which the fears, prejudices and punitive prohibitions of today are no more. Our mission is to advance those policies and attitudes that best reduce the harms of both drug use and drug prohibition, and to promote the autonomy of individuals over their minds and bodies. Learn more at drugpolicy.org.