Harm Reduction Victories
911 Good Samaritan
In September 2012, California Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 472, the '911 Good Samaritan' overdose death prevention bill, into law. The law, which goes into effect January 1st, 2013, encourages people to call 911 during an overdose by providing limited immunity for low-level drug law violations, such as possession of a small amount of drugs. DPA worked closely with our allies for years to get this life-saving legislation passed, and we are now helping to raise awarenesss of the law.
DPA has led historic efforts in California to authorize and fund syringe access. After years of sponsoring bills that were passed by the legislature but then vetoed, we finally succeeded in 2004 in passing legislation (AB 547) to allow local governments to authorize syringe access programs annually. Previously, reauthorization was required every two weeks. DPA has also successfully campaigned for bills to allow local governments to use state HIV prevention funds on syringe access programs.
Under another DPA-sponsored bill in 2004 (SB 1159), the Disease Prevention Demonstration Project, fourteen counties and three cities allow over-the-counter pharmacy sales of syringes to adults without a prescription. The project, a no-cost way to expand access to sterile syringes, is set to expire in 2010. DPA is committed to its extension.
In another successful effort to prevent the spread of communicable diseases, DPA succeeded in moving legislation in 2005 (AB 296) that requires the dissemination of education and prevention materials regarding hepatitis C to prison inmates. Nearly 40 percent of California’s prison population is infected with the potentially deadly disease.
One of DPA’s first pieces of legislation in California was the Overdose Prevention, Recognition and Response Act, which passed but was vetoed in 2001. More recently, in 2007, DPA helped create a set of pilot projects to distribute naloxone (SB 767). By providing training on and access to naloxone, overdose prevention and treatment programs have enabled bystanders to save lives when someone overdoses.