California State Assembly Passes Bipartisan Legislation To Reduce Overdose Deaths by Advancing Essential Protections For Trained Professionals Providing Drug Checking Services

Statement May 23, 2024
Media Contact

Maggie Hart, [email protected]

Sacramento, CA – The California state Assembly passed AB 2136 (Jones Sawyer), a bill that will curb overdose deaths by providing essential protections for drug checking program providers and encourage more jurisdictions to offer checking services. The bill cleared the Assembly floor with bipartisan support.

Drug-checking services provide people who use drugs with information on the chemical content of their drugs. This can help detect the presence of potent drugs like fentanyl or xylazine and can include connections to treatment and addiction services, safer use or overdose prevention information. By providing this information, drug checking services help people who use drugs make better, informed decisions about their health.

In response to the legislation passing out of the Assembly, Drug Policy Alliance California and other supporters of the bill released these statements:

“The overdose crisis and drugs like fentanyl and xylazine are of concern to our communities. Drug checking allows trained providers to detect the presence of these drugs and help people to not use, connect them to treatment and addiction services, or use in safer ways that can reduce the risk of an overdose. Expanding drug checking services will save lives and enhance public health responses to the unregulated drug market in real time,” said Norma Palacios, California State Policy Coordinator for the Drug Policy Alliance. “AB 2136 helps expand the tools in our public health toolbox by encouraging more jurisdictions to offer these lifesaving drug checking services. By passing this legislation, the Assembly took a step toward bolstering evidence-based public health solutions to the overdose crisis in California.”

“Drug checking is a vital tool at our disposal with the potential to help prevent drug overdoses and keep Californians safe and alive. This year, I am proud to author Assembly Bill 2136, which clarifies the legality of accessing and providing drug checking services in the state. This bill provides necessary protections for service providers and participants so that more people can make informed decisions about their health,” said Assemblymember Jones-Sawyer (D-Los Angeles). “It can take less than 10 minutes to reveal life-saving information about the contents of the substances people consume. AB 2136 is truly an opportunity to save lives.”

“Community-based drug checking can potentially give us much more timely information about how the drug supply might be changing so that we can help prevent overdose and other harms,” said Chelsea Shover, Assistant Professor-in-Residence at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine. “In Los Angeles, when we first identified the veterinary tranquilizer xylazine in heroin samples in one part of the city, we immediately notified the Public Health Department and our community partners. Together we were able to get the word out that xylazine was beginning to emerge in some parts of the county’s unregulated drug supply.”

“On Behalf of the Solis Policy Institute, we thank the Assembly for supporting and passing AB 2136. This bill presents an evidence-based and cost-effective solution to the overdose crisis aimed at ensuring people have access to healthcare, treatment services, and wraparound programs that enable well-being and safe decision-making.” said Thuy Do, fellow with the Women’s Foundation California’s Solís Policy Institute (SPI) Health & Prosperity Team.

This bill has broad statewide support from organizations working at the intersection of  harm reduction, public health and criminal justice reform. The bill now heads to the State Senate for consideration.

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About the Drug Policy Alliance 

The Drug Policy Alliance is the leading organization in the U.S. working to end the drug war, repair its harms, and build a non-punitive, equitable, and regulated drug market. We envision a world that embraces the full humanity of people, regardless of their relationship to drugs. We advocate that the regulation of drugs be grounded in evidence, health, equity, and human rights. In collaboration with other movements and at every policy level, we change laws, advance justice, and save lives. Learn more at

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

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