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Posted on 04.16.2014 1:27 p.m.

Jackson Puts Statewide Drug Take-Back Legislation on Hold

Source: Lisa Gardiner for State Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson

State Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara, announced on Wednesday that, due to a lack of support from some of her legislative colleagues in the Senate Business, Professions and Economic Development Committee, she is shelving a bill this year to create the nation’s first statewide drug take-back program for prescription and over-the-counter drugs.

Jackson plans to introduce a bill tackling this same topic next year.

In the meantime, Jackson is amending Senate Bill 1014 to move a bill forward that will reinstate model guidelines, developed by CalRecycle, for local governments wanting to create their own drug take-back programs, so that efforts can continue at the local level.

“I am disappointed that we were unable to move forward with a statewide plan this year, but I am committed to this issue and to helping to solve the immense public health and environmental challenges created by unused prescription and over-the-counter drugs," Jackson said. "I always expected change of this magnitude to be a multiyear effort. I look forward to taking the next several months to determine how to best move forward with legislation next year that will create a statewide drug take-back program.

“Most of all, I look forward to the day when the multi-billion dollar pharmaceutical industry steps up to take responsibility and joins us as a partner in tackling legislation that helps solve the statewide challenges created by unused prescription drugs.”

A response to the growing problem of prescription drug abuse, accidental poisonings, and traces of pharmaceuticals found in drinking water, Senate Bill 1014, as it was introduced in January, would have required drug manufacturers to create, finance and manage a statewide system for collecting and safely disposing of unwanted prescription drugs that people have in their homes.

The bill was modeled after an Alameda County ordinance that was the first of its kind in the country. SB 1014 had the support of more than 100 local government and environmental groups, but faced stiff opposition from the pharmaceutical industry.

For the past 15 years in British Columbia, Canada, in a program paid for by the pharmaceutical industry, consumers have been able to conveniently dispose of unused drugs in bins located at pharmacies, where they are safely destroyed.

While some safe drug disposal sites do exist in California, there are only 300 to 400 such sites in the state to serve 38 million Californians.

— Lisa Gardiner is the communications director for state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson.

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