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    Obama Retains Ban on Federal Funding of Needle Exchange

    Failing to keep a campaign promise, President Barack Obama has decided to keep in place a ban on using federal money to support needle-exchange programs, the Huffington Post reported May 7.

    Obama's budget plan, released last week, still includes language prohibiting federal funding for needle exchanges, even though the White House website stated until very recently that, “The President … supports lifting the federal ban on needle exchange, which could dramatically reduce rates of infection among drug users.”

    That statement has been removed from the White House website; an Obama spokesperson cast the issue as one of timing, not intent. “We have not removed the ban in our budget proposal because we want to work with Congress and the American public to build support for this change,” said spokesperson Ben LaBolt. “We are committed to doing this as part of a National HIV/AIDS strategy and are confident that we can build support for these scientifically based programs.”

    However, Tom Angell, a spokesperson for the group Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, said it was “hard to imagine how removing mention of support for a proven lifesaving program from the White House website is part of a grand strategy to 'build support' for syringe exchange.”

    The Obama budget also retains a ban on the District of Columbia implementing a medical-marijuana law approved by local voters in a referendum.