(AP) — The Missouri House has passed a bill to make it legal for organizations to provide free needles to drug users.
House members voted 135-13 Thursday to send the bill to the Senate.
Republican Rep. Holly Rehder has said Missouri groups now pass out clean syringes to intravenous drug users with the goal of preventing the spread of hepatitis C and HIV through dirty needles. But state law bans possessing drug paraphernalia, which puts the needle exchanges in murky legal waters.
Some skeptics have questioned whether exchanges will make much of a difference in the fight against the opioid epidemic. But supporters argue it could help build relationships between health professionals handing out needles and addicts, which could lead more people to seek treatment.