NEEDLE EXCHANGE: Davis Signs Revised Bill
Gov. Gray Davis signed a needle exchange bill Saturday that "exempts local governments and employees from criminal prosecution for distributing syringes but requires cities and counties to use emergency powers to authorize needle exchange programs." Previously, Davis had blocked Assemblywoman Kerry Mazzoni's (D-San Rafael) original bill -- which legalized such programs, created a data collection program and required law enforcement participation -- but agreed to sign a modified version. Davis said the original bill "sent mixed messages to children and teenagers about illegal drug use." Mazzoni called the new version "vastly reduced, but a step in the right direction." San Francisco Board of Supervisors President Tom Ammiano said the bill is "half a loaf. It's less comprehensive and a lot more cumbersome. ... This is an important first step, but basically let's just say it's bittersweet." The bill allows established programs in Berkeley, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Santa Cruz to continue running, but "casts doubt over similar programs where no state of emergency has been declared," the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat reports (10/11). Ammiano expressed concern that "other communities would not be as supportive of programs as San Francisco, meaning long debates every two weeks when emergency orders are considered" (AP/Contra Costa Times, 10/11).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.