Pueblo City Council votes to ban syringe exchanges

(PUEBLO, Colo.) — An ordinance banning syringe exchange programs in Pueblo passed on a 5-2 vote at a City Council meeting on Monday, May 13.

The ordinance was proposed in April of 2022 by Councilor Regina Maestri, and aimed to reduce drug paraphernalia in the City.

“Syringe exchange programs within the City are contributing to the improper disposal of used hypodermic needles and syringes,” states the background information on the ordinance. “The City is experiencing an increase in the number of dirty hypodermic needles syringes, and other drug paraphernalia being discarded in the City’s public places, such as the City Park, Mineral Palace Park, and Pueblo River Trail System, presenting a threat to the health, property, safety, and welfare of the public in the City of Pueblo.”

The ordinance passed on Monday in a 5-2 vote, with councilmembers Dennis Flores and Sarah Martinez in opposition. The ordinance amends Title XI, Chapter 1, Section 405 of the Pueblo Municipal Code to prohibit “the establishment, operation, use, or participation in syringe exchange or distribution programs.”

Any person or organization found to be involved in a needle exchange program will now constitute a public nuisance.

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