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Access To Clean Syringes Likely To Remain Limited In San Diego

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Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has approved an eight-year extension on a measure that allows local governments to decide whether pharmacies can sell syringes over-the-counter.

— Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has approved an eight-year extension on a measure that allows local governments to decide whether pharmacies can sell syringes over-the-counter.

State health officials say the sharing of dirty needles is the number one cause of new hepatitis C infections.

Even so, San Diego County Supervisors won't allow pharmacies to sell syringes over-the-counter, because they believe it condones illegal drug use.

Margaret Dooley-Samuli, with the non-profit Drug Policy Alliance, said the county's position is bad for public health.

"And in fact," Dooley-Samuli argues, "the counties that already allow syringes to be sold in pharmacies, they also will suffer from San Diego's unwillingness to allow this program, because disease doesn't stop at the county line."

The city of San Diego has a mobile clean syringe exchange, but it's only open limited hours twice a week.

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