Two pieces of legislation (SB 41, AB 604) before Gov. Jerry Brown (D) would strengthen the legal status of programs that offer access to sterile syringes, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Details of the Bills
SB 41, by Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco), would allow physicians, pharmacists and workers at approved programs to offer a limited number of syringes without prescriptions.
AB 604, by Assembly member Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley), would direct California's Department of Public Health to sanction needle-exchange programs in communities where the agency believes there is a public health risk.
Debate About the Bills
Health advocates argue that providing sterile syringes to injection drug users can help curb the use of non-sterile syringes that might expose them to blood-borne diseases such as HIV and hepatitis.
Opponents of needle-exchange programs argue that the practice helps those who are addicted to drugs harm themselves (Marcum, Los Angeles Times, 9/19).
KQED's "The California Report" recently reported on the two measures that await a decision by Brown (Daniel, "The California Report," KQED, 9/16).