California state senator Hannah-Beth Jackson has introduced a new bill into the state legislature that would create a statewide drug disposal program. Under the bill, the program would be funded by pharmaceutical companies. The bill, Senate Bill 1014, is similar to an Alameda County ordinance that compels drug producers selling products locally to work with the local government in a “product-stewardship” program where products that were old or no longer needed were disposed. Drug companies sued on the grounds that the ordinance was unconstitutional and put an unfair burden on drug companies. Initially, a local judge sided with Alameda County, but the ruling has been appealed to the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Jackson, who represents Santa Barbara, claims that the bill was initially introduced in the hopes of pharmaceutical companies starting a voluntary disposal program. “I introduced a bill last year as a test balloon to see if I could get the pharmaceutical industry to come to the table sort of voluntarily, without much success,” said Jackson. “So this year, the bill sets some very specific requirements that they take responsibility for disposal of these medications — something they don’t want to do.”
The Santa Barbara Sheriff’s department believes that drug disposal is a real problem in the city. “Under current state law, no one can possess narcotics that have not been specifically prescribed to them by a licensed physician,” said Lt. Brad McVay. “This resulted in a consumer being unable to properly destroy or return unused, expired or unwanted narcotics. To compound the problem, most people don’t know what a narcotic is and is not.”