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California Gov. Brown Signs Needle Access Bills

California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) has signed into law a pair of bills that will expand access to clean needles and help prevent the spread of HIV and Hepatitis C infections in the state. The move is winning him kudos from drug reformers and public health advocates.

Badly needed needle exchanges could be coming to more CA counties under a bill just signed by Gov Brown. (
The first bill, Senate Bill 41, sponsored by Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco), makes legal the sale of syringes at pharmacies without a prescription. An earlier pilot program allowing such sales had been in effect in some counties and has proven effective at reducing needle-sharing, but most counties did not participate. Now, once the bill goes into effect on January 1, people will be able to buy syringes without a prescription at pharmacies statewide.

The second bill, AB 604, sponsored by Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley), allows the California Department of Public Health to authorize new needle exchange programs after consultation with local public health and law enforcement. Currently, needle exchange programs are only authorized after county officials declare a public health emergency, and the political will to do that has been lacking in some counties. This bill allows public health officials to take the initiative instead of waiting for elected officials. It, too, will go into effect on January 1.

"I am directing the department to administer AB 604 in a constrained way, working closely not only with local health officers and police chiefs, but with neighborhood associations as well," said Gov. Brown in his signing statement. "I believe that AB 604 can reduce the spread of communicable diseases and the suffering they cause and, at the same time, respect public safety and local preference."

"This is a huge victory for public health and common sense," said Laura Thomas, Deputy Director of California for the Drug Policy Alliance. "Now all Californians will have the same access to proven, effective HIV and hepatitis C prevention. This gives drug users the tools that they need to protect their health and that of their partners, children, and communities, as well as protecting the California taxpayer from the cost of HIV and hepatitis C infections."

Sacramento, CA
United States
Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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Who needs exchange when you can buy?

Can someone explain to me the relevance of exchange programs in states where you can buy syringes OTC?

Needle sharing for harder

Needle sharing for harder drugs (like heroin) is a huge problem, and leads to the rampant spread of HIV and other STIs like Hepatitis C. These cost hundreds of thousands of dollars on treatment. On the other hand, needles are really, really cheap. Get junkies to pay for it, junkies don't get HIV, and they don't need to be treated.

It's not better than getting them off smack to begin with, but it's a cheap and effective way to eliminate one of the biggest dangers involved in doing it. Plus, the junkies themselves are footing the bill!

Erm, totally misread the

Erm, totally misread the question. Needle Exchange programs offer an even stronger incentive than just OTC needles because the new ones are either free or heavily discounted. Drugs, among a myriad of other things, tend to be very expensive, so making the needles easy to acquire even if you're broke is a pretty big deal.

WHAT THE ^&%# ?

WHAT THE ^&%# ?


WhAt the heck are these people thinking ? Give FREE needles to drug addicts ?






you know they will share those needles; I THINK THIS SHOULD BE ILLEGAL ! ! !






so in other words intravenous drug addictions is "legal...

but smoking a medicinal marijuana herbal cigarette is against the law





Do you think about what you're writing before you type?  Don't be so close minded please, for you make others fear for the offspring that you might plague this world with....


This has NOTHING to do with marijuana and has everything to do with making someone's life safer for a person who can't prioritize that for themselves anymore.


Please reevaluate your ignorance before posting.

fuzziebacon wrote...

Get junkies to pay for it, junkies don't get HIV, and they don't need to be treated.


WHAT ! ! ? Junkies don't get HIV...that is crazy; Junkies get and transmit HIV to anyone they encounter !


i have been using MMJ for 45 years and I have never touched a narocotic or needle and god forbit i ever do !


wake up and smell the safe effective medicinal mairjuana burning ! ALL DRUGS ARE NOT CREATED EQUAL...



PS "NO ONE HAS EVER "DIED ON MARIJUANA ! how many die from Aids and narcotics




 so when jerry brown goes to seep at night he things


ah good knowing thousands of iv narcotics users have a free needle? WHAT A TERRIBLE THOUGHT !


"Junkies get and transmit HIV

"Junkies get and transmit HIV to anyone they encounter." Are you serious? I'm a junky and am not at any risk of HIV/Hepatitis because I use clean needles. You need to understand that you CANNOT contract either one of those diseases if your needle is clean. Junkies who don't have access to clean needles are very very desperate and are willing to take risks to get their fix. Such a risk could be sharing a needle because laws make it extremely difficult for junkies to have access to them. The stigma that junkies spread diseases doesn't need to be a true one. Just because YOUR drug is Mary J doesn't mean you have to bash on people who use other ones. Please reconsider your uninformed opinion.

America is on the wrong path...imo Anna usa 1951

AMERICA is on the wrong path

America has been distributing "free needles to people for 40 years

and has thus arrested approximately "20 million Americans for small time MARIJUAN POSSESSION

and another 10 million for distribution of marijuana



PS instead of giving junkies free paraphernalia...they shoiuld give junkies treatment and drug rehabilitation !

ah but one needle is so much cheaper than a rehab center; CHEAPER THAN CURING THE ADDICT !


the usa does not have many treatment centers for addicts ! stooooooooooooooopid government...dumb !

borden's picture

Anna, dead addicts don't

Anna, dead addicts don't recover. And the research evidence supporting needle exchange is simply overwhelming.

You also misunderstand addiction, addiction treatment and addiction recovery. You don't just spend money on treatment and the patient is cured. It doesn't always work the first time -- some people are just not at that point where they can be successfully treated -- and after it does, relapse is something to be expected from time to time, not with everyone but often. And so it comes back to... dead addicts don't recover. And an addict with HIV or Hepatitis, maybe spreading it to others, is a situation to be avoided by any means possible.

wtf ,are some of these people educated?

im honestly shocked at how stupid some of these "anti-everything" people are.heroin has a 98.5% relapse rate.the explosion of opiate abuse (opiate is the pharmaceutical name for pain killers such as, ocycodone / oxycontin ,Percocet,vicodin/ hydrocodone ,morphine and any drug derived from the poppy or opium but also including synthetic opoites.synthetic opiates are actually made from carbon which is another way of saying "its extracted from oil" ) use has exploded since the introductin of oxycontin hit the market.its effects are similar to heroin ,but legal and safer as it is made in a pharmacy and held to standards that heroin makers dont have to abide with all the drugs that are illegal,the cessation of it will cause the (imho) worst withdrawl and feeling a human can experience.basically ,the rule of withdrawl is " you basically feel the exact opposite of how you feel when high" .the fear and pain and agony of withdrawl makes people keep a addict myself(never iv,just pills due to a car accident that has ruined my life and will cost me a leg next month)i have suffered withdrawl and it is shocking how intense and profound it is.u feel as if you are dying and some have gone as far as to hurt themselvs in hope of being medicated.i have never met one addict who has started life desiring to become addicted to a drug that most will never live without or a similar changes the chemistry in your brain and u end up justifying anything as long as it gets you that relief.after about 60-90 days of moderate to heavy use,your body stops producing its own natural opiates and that is when you are then dependant on that drug.stopping after just 4 hours for most drugs will bring on withdrawls.some people can actually die from the withdrawl.
addicts often choose to use an iv drug because of the intense euphoria it causes.for most addicts after the first high they knew thier life would never be worth living if they didnt have a needle.most people who havent taken pain meds cant even imagine who or how someone will ruin their life,famlies life,become homless and destroy their body because "it feels good" .but just as people who are bad alchlolics will get soooooo desperate for a drink they will drink mouthwash,perfume (legendary actress vivian leigh aka,scarlett o-hara was so bad that when her husband locked her in a room to "sober and dry her out" she actually drank her perfume to stave off seizures and withdrawl) but with pills,the drug must pass the G.I tract to be asorbed into the blood stream.during the "1st pass" thru your stomach ,the acid in the tummy eats about 30-40% of the drug.thats why when taking a pill you take 3-4 times what you would if it was being administered intraveinously.that works in favor of the buzz in that you have 3-4 times the amount needed if it will be melted down and shot up.this increase in amount of the drug makes the high harder and stronger.the usage of the vein to get high does work faster and stronger,about 10 seconds vs 30 mins for a pill.if you are tolerant to the med,you dont get high,so people then go from a pill to crushing the pill and injecting it.
being a man who has been thru rehab twice,i have seen dr's,lawyers ,retired navy captian basically,alot of people that you would never know were act as if banning everything to do with drugs is absurd and the evidence of the failure of the war on drugs validates that ...
weather or not something is illegal is not the point,making smart laws is.why force an addict who has become soooooo adicted to a drug that he will share a syringe with someone he dosent know ,he finds in a trash can and thinks washing it makes it all good.its stupid and iggnorant to think it will force him to stop.the brain has been changed so rastically that he no longer functions normally.he dosent care that he could get hep-a,b,c from that needle when he is in withdrawl.all he cares about is getting better and that will only come thru usage of the needle.
these arent creatures that live under bridges,these were family,friends and addicts who never meant for life to mean so little.this law is a good similar to assuming that if you dont give a condom to a teen than they wont be able to have sex.the cost of a junkie requiring treatment for a disease that they aquired from a dirty needle and had they been able to buy a clean one for 1$ at the local drugstore should be proof enough when u think about the half a million $it probably will cost to just treat half the issues from the disease.when we banned booze,people died because they drank alcohol that was made in bathtubs,its not much different.we shpuld not treat someone like a peice of crap just because they have become addicted to a drug that has taken hold of their life.its surprisngly common to find that an i.v user actually got hooked after an injury or surgery.what has happened in the u.s is,the explosion of pill abuse had made the govt respond so hard that now your kids who were addicted to vicodin or oxycontin have been forced to find the street version of that,and the street version of those ,is heroin.yes folks heroin is now right behind pills as the fastest growing drug in the when u think that banning something or trying to stop it by taking away the aparatis for administering it,ll we will get is more disease,hospital bills and lives that were shattered because we couldnt admit to ourselvs that humans who are dying and have an illness and disease that we call addiction ,they are human and deserve sympythay .yes addiction is a choice,but for many it was a choice just once,after that first mistake it was never a choice........the war on drugs is a waste of taxpayer $ and the sooner we change and stop trying to stop the flow,but instead treat the person .until then we will see more suffering than should be allowed.

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