Los Angeles Times (10.11.11) - Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Gov. Jerry Brown has signed into law two bills aimed at
reducing the spread of hepatitis C and HIV.
SB 41 allows residents to purchase syringes at pharmacies
without a prescription. California was one of the few states
where such purchases are illegal, save for pilot programs in
certain areas. SB 41 was written by Sen. Leland Yee (D-San
The second bill, AB 604, permits the state to authorize
needle-exchange programs in high-risk areas. This issue is
being debated currently in Fresno, which has one of the
highest rates of IV drug use in the country. Last month, the
Fresno County Board of Supervisors rejected a plan to legalize
a long-running NEP, even as county health officials warned
that new HIV and hepatitis C infections were rising.
The League of California Cities and some police organizations
opposed AB 604, introduced by Assembly member Nancy Skinner
(D-Berkeley), over concerns it would take away local control.
Dr. Marc Lasher, who runs a free medical clinic connected to
the Fresno NEP, said AB 604 "allows us to do what's right
health-wise for our patients and our community, and we'll
never have to ask permission ever again from the Board of
Brown pledged in his signing message that he will ask health
officials to implement the law in a "constrained way, working
closely not only with local health officers and police chiefs,
but with neighborhood associations as well."