A hearing is planned for Wednesday that will give members of the public a chance to express
their opinions about proposed changes to the California Department of Public Health’s Syringe
Exchange Program.

CDPH recently proposed changes involving the program that would prevent cities and counties
from passing local ordinances blocking the program from operating, though the state
department contends that the law doesn’t give jurisdictions the power to do so.
Last year, the Yuba-Sutter area was considered for a syringe exchange site. However, local
governments passed ordinances banning such a program from operating within their

The state department says that a previously enacted law gave them new authority to grant
authorization of syringe exchange program sites, though a law that was already on the books
gave the ability to local governments to authorize program sites. The latest proposal is an
attempt to clear up the language in the conflicting laws by removing “local ordinances” from the
regulations — the department says some community groups applying for authorization with
the state are under the mistaken impression they must first receive approval from local
government, which they say is creating false expectations that local governments can halt
department authorization.

Community leader and SAYLove founder Jeff Stephens said Yuba-Sutter residents have already
spoken and were overwhelmingly against allowing such a program from operating in the area.

His nonprofit organization, along with community volunteers, go out once a month and
conduct clean ups around the Yuba-Sutter area. He said each time they do they find used
needles strewn about public areas that are regularly accessed by local families and children. He
believes allowing such a program to operate within the area would lead to the issue growing
even further.

“We can come up with services and programs to help those in need without handing them a
needle. We don’t need any more needles out in the community,” Stephens said. “…I’d like to see
the public come out and support the effort to stop what the (CDPH) is trying to impose on our

The public hearing is planned for 10 a.m. on Wednesday and will be held virtually (Zoom). The
purpose of the public hearing is for the state to receive testimony regarding the proposed
regulations (DPH-18-015), not to engage in debate or discussion. Those wishing to speak will be
heard on a first-come, first-served basis. Comments can also be submitted in writing by
emailing regulations@cdph.ca.gov.

The public comment period was extended to May 6.
There are currently 62 syringe exchange programs throughout the state that provide sterile
injection equipment, dispose of used syringes, and provide linkages to health care and social
services. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said evidence shows the sites reduce
HIV and viral hepatitis transmission; reduce overdose mortality; increase entry into substance
use disorder treatment; reduce needle-stick injuries; save money; and do not increase drug use
or crime.
How to participate in Wednesday’s public hearing
– When: April 14 at 10 a.m.
– Where: Zoom – https://bit.ly/2QgADxV.
– Meeting ID: 987 2438 4341 (Passcode: 713980).
**Call in: +1 669-900-9128.

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