At first glance, objections to programs that give free hypodermic syringes to drug users in exchange for dirty ones are understandable.
There's something about providing, free, an instrument of addiction that gives pause.
Fortunately, our process allows lawmakers to look beyond that first glance.
And so legislators should know by now that needle-exchange programs promote public health rather than addiction.
They should also be aware that, under the proposal before them, no community will be required to have a needle-exchange program, and that neither state nor federal tax dollars would be used to support them.
So, the only reason to stand in the way of including a provision to allow communities to choose to establish needle exchanges is a fear of appearing to do something for drug abusers.
In that sense they're right. Needle-exchange programs do provide information about treatment options and health screenings and counselling.
People who use them are more likely to get treatment for their drug abuse. They are also much less likely to contract hepatitis C or HIV than other drug users.
Even if legislators are inclined to regard hepatitis C, HIV and other diseases spread by dirty needles as just punishment for shooting up drugs, they should know by now that dirty needles endanger everyone.
Most notably, police and emergency medical personnel who come into contact with drug users as well as young children who could encounter discarded dirty needles on playgrounds.
Louisville Courier-Journal reporter Chris Kenning reported about the experiences of Portsmouth, Ohio, where a needle exchange program was established in 2012 as a "harm reduction" measure in the face of an epidemic of heroin abuse.
The program distributes about 5,000 clean needles a month in exchange for dirty ones.
The rate of hepatitis C in the county was cut almost in half in the first year, Kenning reported.
Further, dirty needles have almost disappeared from playgrounds, said Andy Gedeon, directory of environmental health in Portsmouth.
"You went to pretty much any of the playgrounds ... and you'd find all kinds of needles," he said. Now, "I'm not saying they're totally gone but it's rare."
"You either love it or you hate it," Gedeon said, acknowledging the idea of needle exchanges stirs strong emotions. "Until you really dive into it, learn the stats."
Encourage your senator and representative to dive into it, and then to vote to allow needle exchanges in Kentucky communities that want and need them.
To contact your legislator go to: www.lrc.ky.gov.