Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Clean needles in California

Although needle exchange systems are fairly widespread another important part of the equation is the simple ability to buy clean needles in the first place. There is clear evidence that the availability of clean needles helps prevent the spread of diseases like AIDS and hepatitis. Last October the California Senate passed Senate Bill 029 that allowed pharmacists and physicians to provide up to 30 syringes without a prescription and allowed adults to possess the same number for personal use.

But Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed the bill, instead signing a law to continue a pilot program that allows counties to opt into a program that allows pharmacies to sell syringes without a prescription. This is a shameful political move allowing the Governor to appear strong on drugs whilst adding a token measure that continues the status quo which is not working.

Laura Thomas, the Drug Policy Alliance’s deputy state director, said the governor’s veto is “tragic and infuriating”
“It is an irrational attachment to drug war hysteria, at the expense of human life and fiscal responsibility to the California taxpayer,” she said. “Nothing would have worked better and cost less in reducing the spread of HIV and hepatitis C than SB 1029.”

California is now one of only three states that prohibit pharmacies from selling syringes without a prescription on a Statewide basis.

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