Schwarzenegger Should Sign Bill To Permit Over-the-Counter Syringe Sales, Editorial States
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) "should have better sense" than to veto a bill (SB 1159) that would allow state pharmacists to sell clean needles without prescriptions because it "makes so much common sense it is hard to see how anybody could consider opposing it," an Orange County Register editorial states (Orange County Register, 8/5). The bill, backed by Sen. John Vasconcellos (D-San Jose) and others, would allow over-the-counter sale of syringes to adults at pharmacies across California. The bill has passed the Legislature several times, but was vetoed each time by former Gov. Gray Davis (D). California is one of five states that do not allow over-the-counter sales of syringes, except with a prescription for insulin or epinephrine (California Healthline, 1/12). The bill would allow adults to purchase up to 10 syringes.
The "best evidence" to support the bill "is that it would not only reduce the rates of HIV and hepatitis infection, but significantly reduce danger to police officers and other safety officers" because needle restrictions result in the use of dirty needles that spread disease, the editorial maintains. The Register cites a 2001 study published in the American Journal of Public Health that showed there was no rise in illicit drug use in cities without syringe restrictions and another study published in the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome and Human Retrovirology that found the incidence of needle-related injuries to Connecticut police officers was reduced six months after similar legislation was passed. The editorial continues that the legislation "wouldn't cost taxpayers anything" because syringe users would have to pay for them, and the measure would make it a crime to dispose of syringes in parks, playgrounds and beaches. "The most important thing is that Gov. Schwarzenegger study [the bill] closely and take the common-sense, compassionate step of signing it," the editorial concludes (Orange County Register, 8/5).