Governor Signs Bills of Importance to Addiction Medicine, October 2015

Critical Treatment Legislation Signed

SACRAMENTO [October 15, 2015]  Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 848 by Assemblymember Mark Stone - which will finally allow physicians and other licensed medical professionals to provide essential medical care to clients who are undergoing detoxification in residential treatment facilities.

“Patients will now have a better chance for successful recovery,” said Dr. Christy Waters, Chair of the California Society of Addiction Medicine’s (CSAM) Public Policy Committee. “Until now, an obsolete provision in state law prevented the California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) from licensing residential treatment programs – that provide detoxification for addiction to Alcohol and other Drugs – from providing medical services to patients,’” she explained.

This legal prohibition made no sense from a medical or public-cost perspective, so for the past 10 years, CSAM has been working to change it. With the passage of this legislation, sponsored by CSAM, DHCS licensed facilities – that so choose – are now able to provide the most scientifically sound care to those who suffer from addiction. This change will make a critical difference to patients struggling with addiction and to the communities where they live. Their treatment can now be managed inside the program. Whereas transportation to a doctor’s office, clinic, or urgent care used to take additional staff time and resources and required vulnerable patients to leave the safety of a treatment environment.

Under the bill, patients will get a medical screening prior to treatment, often needed prescriptions for safe detoxification, and medical oversight for the other conditions that often accompany addiction such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Treatment can now be easily managed within the confines of the residential facility and the safety of a consistent treatment environment.

In addition to AB 848, the Governor also signed the following bills that CSAM actively supported:

AB 679 (Allen)   Controlled substances (CURES) - Summary: By January 1, 2016, or upon licensure in the case of a pharmacist, or upon receipt of a federal Drug Enforcement Administration registration in the case of another health care practitioner authorized to prescribe, order, administer, furnish, or dispense controlled substances, whichever respective event occurs later, existing law requires those persons to apply to the Department of Justice to obtain approval to access information contained in the CURES database regarding the controlled substance history of a patient under his or her care. This bill extend those January 1, 2016 deadlines to July 1, 2016.

AB 768  (Thurmond)   Smokeless tobacco: baseball stadiums - Summary: Will, commencing December 1, 2016, prohibit the use or possession of smokeless tobacco products, as defined, on the playing field of a baseball stadium during a professional baseball game or practice. The bill provides that if any provision or its application is held invalid, that invalidity shall not affect other provisions or applications that can be given effect without the invalid provision or application. The bill provides that its provisions do not preempt or prohibit the adoption of a more restrictive local ordinance regarding smokeless tobacco possession or use in a baseball stadium.

AB 216 (Garcia)  Product sales to minors: vapor products - Summary: Prohibits the sale of any device intended to deliver a nonnicotine product in a vapor state, to be directly inhaled by the user, to a person under 18 years of age, or to a person under 21 years of age if SB 151 of the 2015-16 Regular Session is enacted and takes effect. The bill exempts from its prohibition the sale of a drug or medical device that has been approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration. Because this bill would create a new crime or infraction, the bill will impose a state-mandated local program. This bill contains other related provisions and other existing laws.

AB 1352    (Eggman)  Bill allows those who have completed Deferred Entry of Judgment (DEJ) pursuant to PC 1000 to clean up their records. Current California law holds that those who have completed DEJ have not been convicted; in fact, even the arrest is deemed “to never have occurred.” CSAM joined with immigrant rights groups including National Council of La Raza, Mexican American Legal Defense Fund, Asian Law Caucus, and civil rights and human rights groups in urging the Gov's signature on this bill.

CSAM thanks its public policy advisor Robert Harris and the members of the committee who worked diligently throughout the year to secure passage of these bills, along with CSAM's partner organizations. The CSAM Public Policy Committee includes:

  • Christy S. Waters, MD, Chair
  • Randolph Holmes, MD, Chair-elect
  • Peter Banys, MD
  • Timmen Cermak, MD
  • Itai Danovitch , MD
  • John Fullerton, MD
  • Ihor Galarnyk, MD
  • David Kan, MD
  • Catherine McDonald, MD, MPH
  • David Pating, MD
  • David Sack, MD
  • Kenneth Saffier, MD
  • Mario San Bartolome, MD
  • Lee Snook, MD
  • Jeffery Wilkins, MD
  • Angella Barr, MD
  • Carol Rogala, MD
  • Anna Lembke, MD
  • Judith Martin, MD (consultant)

The committee is seeking members interested participating in public policy efforts in 2016.  For more information, contact CSAM Executive Director Kerry Parker, CAE, 415-764-4855 or csam@csam-asam.org