Bills To Allow Syringe Sales Without Prescriptions, Ban Ephedra Await Action by Davis
Nearly 300 bills, including legislation dealing with the sale of hypodermic syringes and the sale of the dietary supplement ephedra, await action by Gov. Gray Davis (D) before a midnight Sunday deadline, the Los Angeles Times reports (Vogel/Nicholas, Los Angeles Times, 10/10). The Legislature in September passed the needle sale bill () with the minimum number of required votes and sent the measure to Davis. If approved, the measure will change current California law, which requires a prescription to purchase syringes, except when they are used to inject adrenaline or insulin. The bill also requires participating pharmacies to offer on-site syringe disposal, needle mail-back programs or referrals to disposal centers and includes a sunset date so the program will need to be reauthorized by lawmakers in 2007 (California Healthline, 9/5). The Legislature last month also approved a bill (SB 582) that would ban the sale of dietary supplements that contain ephedra (California Healthline, 9/9). Under California law, the governor has 30 days after the legislative session ends to sign into law or veto legislation; any legislation that the governor does not sign or veto automatically will become law after the 30-day deadline, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.
Governor-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) on Thursday said he would prefer that Davis not sign any more bills. Schwarzenegger spokesperson Rob Stutzman said that Schwarzenegger "misspoke" as was aware that if Davis failed to sign the measures they would become law. "What's important to him is that the governor not sign anything, enact anything to law, that would be a radical departure from current law," Stutzman said, adding, "We are looking at what's left on the governor's desk and seeing if anything would really meet that criteria and cause a specific concern." Davis spokesperson Steve Maviglio said that Davis will "continue to perform his duties until the new governor is sworn in" and will "act on legislation as the California Constitution obligates him to do" (Mendel, San Diego Union-Tribune, 10/10).
Summaries of editorials addressing SB 774 are provided below.
- Because more than 50,000 people in the state are HIV-positive, the state of California should be "looking at all measures to slow" the spread of HIV, including the needle sale bill, which is sitting "in limbo" on the governor's desk, a San Francisco Chronicle editorial says. Numerous studies have shown that access to sterile needles from pharmacies reduces the transmission of blood-borne disease without leading to increased crime or illicit drug use, the editorial states, concluding, "We ask the governor to sign [the bill]" (San Francisco Chronicle, 10/10).
- Davis should sign both the needle sale bill and another measure (AB 946) that would remove the "onerous requirement" that governing bodies declare a state of public health emergency every two weeks to establish and maintain needle-exchange programs, a Sacramento Bee editorial states. Although the bills "aren't perfect," the measures are a "step toward more humane treatment of drug dependents," according to the editorial (Sacramento Bee, 10/10).