Court blocks needle exchange program from operating in 4 Orange County cities

ORANGE COUNTY, Calif. (KABC) -- A proposed mobile syringe-exchange program was dealt a blow Friday after a San Diego County Superior Court judge blocked it from operating in Orange County.

The program's goal was to distribute new needles in an effort to stop the spread of HIV and hepatitis C among drug users, which local leaders argued would cause potential harm to the public.

The ruling comes after the non-profit program was approved last year by the California Department of Public Health to operate in Anaheim, Costa Mesa, Orange and Santa Ana. However, Orange County and the cities it would affect promptly sued to stop the O.C. Needle Exchange Program from actually launching.

Friday's ruling points to a potential end to the program. The judge ruled that the state should've reviewed the program for any possible environmental impact.

The needle exchange program originally began in 2016 at the Santa Ana Civic Center, but closed in 2018 after the city denied it a permit, citing a public health risk.
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