Newsbrief: Schwarzenegger Signs Syringe Access Bill, Vetoes NEP Bill 9/24/04

Drug War Chronicle, recent top items


recent blog posts "In the Trenches" activist feed


California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger(R) October 13 signed into law legislation allowing people to buy up to 10 syringes at a time without a prescription. The new law, which is designed to reduce the incidence of HIV and Hepatitis C infections from needle-sharing by injection drug users, is similar to measures approved by the legislature but vetoed by Democratic Gov. Gray Davis.

"My administration supports this measure because it will prevent the spread of HIV, hepatitis and other blood-borne diseases among injection drug users, their sexual partners and their children," Schwarzenegger wrote in a statement issued with the bill signing. "Research conducted on syringe access through pharmacies in other states concluded that access to sterile syringes and needles significantly decreased HIV and [hepatitis C], but did not increase drug use or crime rates."

The bill, sponsored by Sen. John Vasconcellos (D), won approval only after restrictions were added. It sets out a trial program lasting until the end of 2010, and pharmacists will be allowed to sell syringes only if local authorities approve the program.

The same day, Gov. Schwarzenegger vetoed a bill that would have made operating needle exchange programs (NEPs) easier by eliminating the requirement that they be continuously reauthorized by local authorities. Under California law, NEPs are legal only when local health authorities declare a medical emergency. At least 14 cities or counties currently run NEPs, but under current law, the declaration of a health emergency must be renewed every two or three weeks.

The bill did not require close enough local control, he said. "While cumbersome, the reauthorization ensures that local government and local public health officials review the status of syringe exchange programs when deciding to continue the program," the governor wrote. He would consider a similar bill in the future if language is added ensuring that health officials and law enforcement have a chance to weigh in to "ensure that the health benefits of a syringe exchange program outweigh any potential adverse impact on the public welfare."

Despite the mixed signals, the Drug Policy Alliance's Glenn Backes hailed the signing of the syringe sales law. "This is the most important AIDS-prevention legislation in the history of California," he told the Los Angeles Times. "Needle exchange the way Davis did it has helped create about 20 legal access points for sterile syringes. There are hundreds of pharmacies in Los Angeles County which, if the county so chooses, could become legal points of access for sterile syringes."

Read the bill, SB 1159, online at:

-- END --
Link to Drug War Facts
Please make a generous donation to support Drug War Chronicle in 2007!          

PERMISSION to reprint or redistribute any or all of the contents of Drug War Chronicle (formerly The Week Online with DRCNet is hereby granted. We ask that any use of these materials include proper credit and, where appropriate, a link to one or more of our web sites. If your publication customarily pays for publication, DRCNet requests checks payable to the organization. If your publication does not pay for materials, you are free to use the materials gratis. In all cases, we request notification for our records, including physical copies where material has appeared in print. Contact: the Drug Reform Coordination Network, P.O. Box 18402, Washington, DC 20036, (202) 293-8340 (voice), (202) 293-8344 (fax), e-mail [email protected]. Thank you.

Articles of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of the DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.

Issue #355, 9/24/04 Editorial: The Moral Choice is Clear | With New Sentencing Legislation Pending in Congress, Church Leaders Urge an End to Mandatory Minimums | Patients, Doctors, Supporters Head to Washington to Demand Rescheduling of Marijuana as a Medicine | For Second Year, John W. Perry Fund Helps Students with Drug Convictions Afford College | DRCNet Interview: Michael Badnarik, Libertarian Party Presidential Candidate | DRCNet Book Review: "Patients in The Crossfire: Casualties in The War On Medical Marijuana," by Americans For Safe Access | Action Alert: Still Time to Contact Judiciary Committee Members About HEA Drug Provision | Newsbrief: Schwarzenegger Signs Syringe Access Bill, Vetoes NEP Bill | Newsbrief: Schwarzenegger Vetoes Bill Barring High School Drug Testing | Newsbrief: New Jersey Needle Exchange Bill on Fast Track, Passes First Hurdle | Newsbrief: Former Child Actor Macauley Culkin Busted for Drugs in All-Too-Typical Cave-In to Police Search Request | Newsbrief: Montel Williams Show Brings Medical Marijuana Issue to the Masses | Newsbrief: Bush Warns of Canada Drug Threat, Whistles Past Afghan Opium Fields | Newsbrief: Guatemala Seeks More Anti-Drug Money from United States | Newsbrief: Decades of Colombian Drug War Brings... New, More Efficient Drug Organizations | Newsbrief: Narc Hates Free Publicity | Newsbrief: This Week's Corrupt Cops Story | Newsbrief: British Drug Policy Think Tank Says Government Abandoned Planned Heroin Maintenance Expansion | This Week in History | The Reformer's Calendar

This issue -- main page
This issue -- single-file printer version
Drug War Chronicle -- main page
Chronicle archives
Out from the Shadows HEA Drug Provision Drug War Chronicle Perry Fund DRCNet en EspaŮol Speakeasy Blogs About Us Home
Why Legalization? NJ Racial Profiling Archive Subscribe Donate DRCNet em PortuguÍs Latest News Drug Library Search
special friends links: SSDP - Flex Your Rights - IAL - Drug War Facts the Drug Reform Coordination Network (DRCNet)
1623 Connecticut Ave., NW, 3rd Floor, Washington DC 20009 Phone (202) 293-8340 Fax (202) 293-8344 [email protected]