California assembly votes to let pharmacies sell hypodermic needles
California's assembly on Tuesday voted 41-31 to approve a bill that would allow pharmacies to sell up to 30 hypodermic needles to an adult without a prescription. The legislation, which aims to reduce needle-sharing by drug addicts in an effort to reduce HIV and other infectious disease transmissions, covers pharmacies that agree to participate with state and local health officials in evaluating the program. It would be phased out at the end of 2007 unless extended by lawmakers. Assemblyman Joe Nation (D-San Rafael) said the bill is modeled after laws already in effect in 44 other states. But the measure was opposed by several Republican lawmakers, including Assemblyman Jay La Suer (R-La Mesa), who said the bill sends a "terrible message" that it's "OK to use drugs as long as you have a clean needle." The measure now goes back to the senate for consideration of assembly amendments. The senate approved its version of the bill earlier this year.