Pubdate: Mon, 11 Oct 1999
Source: San Luis Obispo County Tribune (CA)
Copyright: 1999 The Tribune
Contact:  P.O. Box 112, San Luis Obispo, CA 93406-0112
Fax: 805.781.7905


Cities Allowed To Carry Out Their Ordinances

SACRAMENTO (AP) - Gov. Gray Davis signed a bill that allows San Francisco,
Berkeley and other cities to continue administering needle-exchange programs
for intravenous drug users.

The needle exchange bill signed Saturday requires cities and counties to use
emergency powers to authorize needle-exchange programs, and exempts cities
and employees from criminal prosecution for distributing syringes.

Current state law, with a few exceptions, prohibits the furnishing,
possession or use of hypodermic needles or syringes without doctor's

But four California cities - Berkeley, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Santa
Cruz - and Marin County have adopted emergency ordinances allowing needle
exchanges to help fight AIDS.

The legislation, which goes into effect Jan. 1, is weaker than an original
bill Davis said he would veto.

The original bill would have sanctioned needle-exchange programs in any
California community that wanted one and touted the effectiveness of needle
exchange programs.

Davis said he believed the measure sent mixed messages to children and
teen-agers about illegal drug use.

Some criticized the new measure as too weak.

"It's half a loaf," said San Francisco Board of Supervisors President Tom
Ammiano. "It's less comprehensive and a lot more cumbersome. I get
frustrated because there is the preponderance of evidence that
needle-exchange programs work. There are lives at stake. ... This is an
important first step, but basically let's just say it's bittersweet."

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