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Proposal to look at syringe exchange program for Chico

"We know we have an errant problem ... it's controversial in that some people would say you're enhancing someone's drug use,' said Chico City Councilman Randall Stone.

Posted: Mar. 9, 2018 5:59 PM

"People talk about doing heroine like it's the thing to do," said Chico resident Brandon Martinez.

Clean and recently out of prison, Brandon Martinez says it's a shame to see the condition of some of Chico's best-loved hangouts.

"I've seen drugs pop up while i'm cleaning, I see syringes around Bidwell Park and 5 mile" said Martinez.

There are a lot of disheartening stories out here - one man told me about doing a demolition of an abandoned house and when they tore his down, they found more plastic than wood.

The city Public Works director says when they do spot clean-ups each week, they find syringes but the hundreds.

They fill up their SHARPS containers and turn them over to the county - it's really the only option in Chico.

"It's a problem! There's no facilities so where are you going to put that in a trash can where someone digs through?" said Shane Rushing, who says he used to use intravenous drugs.

So, one city council member's proposing that we take a hard look at the issue and check out what other cities are doing.

"In Sacramento they had that program every Wednesday, they'd come to the corner and do full kit exchanges," said Rushing.

"We know we have an errant problem ... it's controversial in that some people would say you're enhancing someone's drug use,' said Chico City Councilman Randall Stone.

But looking at other cities that have tried the exchange programs, there's not a lot of improvement when it comes to cleaner streets. So, what would get people to pick up after themselves?

"What I'm mostly concerned about is making sure they can be exchanged successfully, not just a needle-for needle exchange but almost like a CRV event," said Stone.

It could work like recycling - people would get a clean' needle as well as a small amount of cash back.

"I believe that even with the incentive of returning syringes, it'd be a benefit to the public, it's like a safety, HAZMAT thing," said Martinez.

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