California Senate Passes SB 57, Authorizing Life-Saving Overdose Prevention Programs in the State

Press Release April 22, 2021
Media Contact

Matt Sutton 212-613-8026
[email protected]

Los Angeles, CA – Today, the California Senate passed SB 57, a bill to bring overdose prevention programs to California, proposed by Senator Scott Wiener. The Drug Policy Alliance—along with other co-sponsoring organizations, including the California Association of Alcohol and Drug Program ExecutivesCalifornia Society of Addiction Medicine, and HealthRIGHT 360, released the following statements:
“As the overdose crisis continues to tragically claim the lives of California residents and has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, urgent action must be taken. By passing SB 57, the Senate has made it abundantly clear they are committed to doing whatever it takes to save lives,” said Jeannette Zanipatin, California State Director of the Drug Policy Alliance. “Public health leaders across the state agree overdose prevention programs, as authorized in the state by SB 57, are the way to do it. These programs provide an evidence-based, cost-effective approach for us to save lives now, prevent the spread of infectious diseases, and connect people with other vitally important services—such as treatment, housing and other healthcare resources—which have been shown to improve health outcomes in the long-term.” 
“CAADPE applauds the CA State Senate for its approval of SB 57, and thanks Senator Wiener for his leadership in bringing this important substance use disorder treatment strategy to California,” said Al Senella, President of the California Association of Alcohol and Drug Program Executives (CAADPE), and CEO of Tarzana Treatment Centers. “Passage of SB 57 would bring CA one step closer to becoming the first in the country to use this strategy to address the overdose crisis plaguing our state and our country. Overdose Prevention Programs (OPP) are proven to save lives and help people find a path to treatment and healthy lives. Overdose Prevention is an important strategy to address the crisis of drug overdose in our state.  In this time of the need for public health safeguards, California should be using all known and effective strategies to address the growing need for substance use disorder services.”
“CSAM is proud to co-sponsor SB-57. SB-57 establishes Overdose Prevention Programs,” said Dr. David Kan, MD, DFASAM. “OPPs expand treatment access to the most vulnerable people who don’t or cannot access treatment programs. The medical evidence demonstrates that participants in OPPs have lower rates of overdose and substantially increased rates of treatment participation. CSAM encourages the legislature to expand treatment to the most vulnerable Californians by approving SB-57.”
“In the face of a dramatic increase, year-over-year, in overdose fatalities in California, we are pleased to see the California State Senate take action by voting to approve SB57, the Overdose Prevention Program legislation authored by Senator Wiener,” said Vitka Eisen, MSW, Ed.D, President and Chief Executive Officer of HealthRIGHT 360. “Safe and compassionate overdose prevention sites help prevent overdose deaths and build pathways to health and healthcare services for people who use drugs. This has never been more critically necessary than over this past year, where San Francisco saw more people die from drug overdoses than from COVID-19. Now is the time for action. HealthRIGHT 360 is pledged to work with Senator Wiener and the bills other co-sponsors to get to the Governor’s desk and get it signed.”

California State Senator Scott Wiener (San Francisco) introduced SB 57, a bill to bring overdose prevention programs to California, in December 2020 on the first day of the state legislative session. The Drug Policy Alliance—along with other co-sponsoring organizations, including the California Association of Alcohol and Drug Program ExecutivesCalifornia Society of Addiction MedicineHealthRIGHT 360National Harm Reduction CoalitionTarzana Treatment CentersSan Francisco AIDS Foundation and a growing statewide coalition—have launched a vigorous legislative campaign to pilot Overdose Prevention Programs (OPP) in San Francisco, Oakland and Los Angeles County, where the homeless crisis continues to grow, overdose rates have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, and fentanyl-related deaths are surging.
The co-sponsors represent public health and substance use disorder (SUD) treatment professionals, addiction medicine doctors, people who use drugs, harm reduction and drug policy advocates, and HIV and hepatitis C service providers. SB 57 will focus on the urgent need for these life-saving programs in the wake of the nation’s growing overdose crisis, which kills more people than traffic accidents, homicides and suicides combined. 

A young woman holds a sign that says "End the Drug War."

Sign up for updates from DPA.