California Governor Jerry Brown signed two bills that increase access to sterile syringes. The bills are designed to reduce the spread of HIV and hepatitis C among people who use drugs.
The first bill allows people to purchase syringes at pharmacies without a prescription. According to the Los Angeles Times, buying syringes without a prescription is legal in most states.
The second bill allows California to authorize needle exchange programs in areas that are considered at high risk for the spread of disease. The bill will allow a needle exchange program in Fresno to operate legally. The program continued to run even after county supervisors decided not to legalize the operation in September. The program, which has been running for 15 years, exchanges up to 10,000 needles a week.
In a statement, Governor Brown said he believes the bill “can reduce the spread of communicable diseases and the suffering they can cause and, at the same time, respect public safety and local preference.”